Loss of Innocence in Francie Nolan

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In Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie Nolan and her family struggle with many economical and emotional hardships in Brooklyn in the early 1900's. Her mother, Katie, and her father, Johnny, marry and have children at an extremely young age, causing their family's fate to be doomed right from the start. Francie, the older of the two children, has her mother's hard-work ethic, and her father's sentimentality and imagination. Through Francie's fear, humiliation, compassion, sorrow, pride, and disillusionment throughout the novel, she becomes the strong, intelligent woman she is. Francie is a sum of her family's suffering and experiences. With every incident, she loses some of her innocence. Francie, being a year older than her little brother Neeley, expects to enter school a year before him, too. Her parents don't send her to school, though, because they want Neeley and Francie to stick together while they brace themselves for the new environment. One day while Francie walks by the gates of the school, she notices a teacher's pet clapping the chalkboard erasers. Francie watches in admiration, desiring to go to school and be a teacher's pet. When Francie attracts the girl's attention from her staring, the girl walks over to her and asks her if she would like to try it. When Francie delightedly says yes, the girl spits in her face and walks back inside. In this scene, Francie feels one of her first humiliations. She loses some innocence by realizing that not everyone is as nice as she wishes them to be. Later on in the year, Katie and Johnny get notified that they must bring Francie to a doctor to get vaccinated, or she won't be allowed to start school. Katie decides not to go with them to not miss work. Before leaving, Francie and Neeley go outside to make mud pies, and forget to wash as Katie told them to. When she walks in to the doctor's room, he looks at Francie's dark-brown arm and is disgusted. The nurse, being a child of poor Polish immigrants, is...
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