Frequently when two people grow very close to each other and develop similar traits

Frequently when two people grow very close to each other and develop similar traits, they begin to disagree. Mothers and daughters are generally alike in many ways, both physically and psychologically. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith tells a story about a family growing up and struggling to survive in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The reader watches as Francie, the protagonist, grows up and experiences the hardships of life. She goes through her childhood, teenage years and even adulthood and faces the forces of poverty and struggle. One thing she struggles with throughout the novel is her relationship with her mom. The root of their complicated relationship is that Katie repeatedly focuses on Neely, leaving Francie to fend for herself which causes her to believe that she is an afterthought.
Katie has favored her son Neeley since his birth, which has resulted in a rift in Francie and Katie’s relationship. Katie has preferred Neeley to Francie almost all of Francie’s life. She knows she favored him and that “it is wrong to love one child more than the other” (Smith 95). By the time Katie has Neeley, life has become extremely difficult, and she has hardened up. By this time, she is not a very warm person anymore which contributes to why she loves Neeley more. Right when he was born, she saw how strong and healthy he was unlike Francie who was frail and weak when she was born. Since Neeley is born looking so strong and healthy, she has more faith and believes that he will be the one to get out of poverty, not Francie because she was weak. Katie realizes that it’s not fair to love one child more than the other but understands that there is nothing that can be done to fix her inner feeling which is why she tries to keep it hidden. As Francie gets older, she begins to understand why their relationship is the way it is, “We’re too much alike to understand each other because we don’t understand our selves. … Mama understands Neeley because he’s different from her” (381). Francie and Katie have very similar personalities and characteristics. They are both hardworking, stern and intelligent. Although they are so alike, they find it hard to understand each other, mainly because neither understands themselves. Katie’s knows that Francie is like her but only truly understands Neeley, which is why he is shown favoritism.
Although Neeley has been shown favoritism, Katie still values Francie and understands her intelligence, even if she never voices it. Katie knows that Francie needs to thoroughly educated, as she says “She must go to high school and maybe beyond that. She’s a learner, and she’ll be somebody someday” (207). Katie knows that Francie will always strive to do her best and will find a way to go to college and make a living. Because Katie never voices her support Francie grows up thinking that her schooling and education is less important than Neely’s in Katie’s eyes, which is not true. Francie is just like Katie, meaning that she is capable of doing so much in her life. Katie herself almost single-handedly supports the family and manages to get by with Johnny barely making any money. Once Johnny dies Katie has a tough time supporting the family, which is when Francie steps in and gets herself a job. Katie is forced to pull Francie out of high school which she tries to avoid for months because she knows Francie will work hard and get out of poverty. Katie believes Francie needs a good education “Maybe, ‘thought Francie, ‘she doesn’t love me as much as she loves Neeley. But she needs me more than she needs him and I guess being needed is almost as good as being loved. Maybe better”. (326) All her life Francie has felt lonely and unloved, longing to be needed. Once she realizes that Katie needs her more than Neeley she understands how vital she is to the family’s survival. She sacrifices her education so that Neeley could attend high school; they could eat so and adequately Annie-Laurie would have the necessities. She sees how she is needed and it gives her newfound confidence which helps her to support her family.
In conclusion, the root of their contentious relationship is the fact that Francie believes she is an afterthought due to Katie mostly focusing on Neely and leaving Francie alone. Throughout her adolescence, Francie thinks that she is less because of the way Katie treats her but as she grows up she understands Katie’s motives. Francie realizes that she is vital to the families survival and without her working and supporting the family they would not be alive. Overall, Katie and Francie’s relationship is filled with tough love and struggle, but deep inside both Katie and Francie understand that they need each other in their lives.

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