A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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Joanna Character Analysis

A young woman who works at a factory. She has an adorable but illegitimate child who was born as the result of a romance with a neighborhood boy. Katie describes Joanna as “bad” and holds her up to Francie as an example of how not to be. Joanna is an object of disdain among the neighborhood women due to her lack of shamelessness about having had a child out of wedlock. Joanna has no father and Francie decides that Joanna’s real crime is not that “she had been bad, but that she had not been smart enough to get the boy to church.”

Joanna Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by Joanna or refer to Joanna. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn published in 1943.
Chapter 30 Quotes

Most women had the one thing in common: they had great pain when they gave birth to their children. This should make a bond that held them all together; it should make them love and protect each other against the man-world. But it was not so. It seemed like their great birth pains shrank their hearts and their souls. They stuck together for only one thing: to trample on some other woman […] whether it was by throwing stones or by mean gossip. It was the only kind of loyalty they seemed to have. Men were different. They might hate each other but they stuck together against the world and against any woman who would ensnare one of them. “As long as I live, I will never have a woman for a friend. I will never trust any woman again, except maybe Mama and sometimes Aunt Evy and Aunt Sissy.”

Related Characters: Francie Nolan (speaker), Katie Nolan, Aunt Sissy , Aunt Evy, Joanna
Page Number: 237-238
Explanation and Analysis:
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Joanna Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Joanna appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 30
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...in print. Her excitement never subsides. A few doors away, she sees a girl named Joanna come out of her house. The housewives who are doing their Saturday shopping stop gossiping... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Francie has heard her parents talking about Joanna. The baby is beautiful and better-kept than the children of the women who shun Joanna.... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
...to her, just as they are a curse to her mother. Katie talks about how Joanna’s brother is in Sing Sing and surmises that there must be “bad blood” throughout the... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
While watching Joanna that Saturday afternoon, Francie wonders why the girl should be “a lesson.” Joanna is seventeen,... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Joanna recognizes their hate, but she doesn’t let it bother her. A “stringy woman” asks Joanna... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Francie gets her lesson from Joanna, but it’s not the one that Katie intended. Often, on her way home at night... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...that it doesn’t happen that way, but it starts with a kiss. She adds, “Remember Joanna.” Francie thinks back to Joanna in the street with the boy. She knows that Katie... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Francie repeatedly hears the message “Remember Joanna.” As prompted, Francie never forgets her and hates the women who stoned her that summer... (full context)