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Some say education holds the key to success in America. In the novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, a few characters have their own opinion on how important the idea of obtaining a valuable education can be in achieving the American dream. Katie Rommely, Mary Rommely, and Francie’s Boss all have different views on the worth of an education, and each of them influence Francie’s attitude toward getting one with their opinions. Katie Rommely wants the best for her daughter but cannot decide if losing her to education could really be worth it.
She always encourages Francie to do well in school. After a while, Katie ceases with the encouraging because Francie enjoys learning so much that she does not need the support. Even though Katie wants Francie to have a great education, she says, “She must go to High School and maybe beyond that. She’s a learner and she’ll be somebody someday. But when she gets educated, she will grow away from me” (Smith 181).
Katie feels that if Francie becomes too involved in school, she will never retain a good relationship with her. As the story progresses, Katie in a way begins to discourage Francie from learning. She knows that if all Francie does in life concerns going to school and learning, she will lose her forever and Francie will never have or maintain a job to support herself. Even though Katie’s opinion might be insidious to Francie’s schooling, she just might be trying to get Francie prepared for the real world.
Along with her daughter, Mary Rommely also possesses her own opinion on education. Mary feels that education can unlock many opportunities for her family. When Katie asks her mother what she must do to make Francie’s world different, she states, “The secret lies in the reading and writing”(Smith 75).
Mary’s remark exhibits that education holds the key to success. She believes that education starts the “getting better.” If Francie could read better than her mother then the process already began since Mary cannot read and Katie has a limited education. With her education, Francie could acquire a descent job so that she may break the chains of poverty her family has had to deal with all their lives. All Mary Rommely wants for her grandchild is to try to obtain a better life for herself and the whole Rommely Family through education. Francie’s Boss has his own unique opinion on education along with Kate and Mary Rommely.
Francie’s Boss really does not concern himself with getting Francie a better education. All he knows is that she can read newspapers exceptionally well. Francie’s Boss attempts to give Francie a different way of getting an education so that she remains with the company when he says, “Not that I don’t approve of higher education. But I consider newspaper reading a darn fine education”(Smith 336). Francie does not know what to say except, “I’ll …….. I’ll have to talk it over with my mother”(Smith 336). Another reason her Boss does not concern himself with her education could be that he does not know Francie is only fourteen instead of sixteen. He probably would have told her to go back to school if he knew she was only fourteen. Francie’s Boss plays a little role in her life, but his opinion, although negative towards education, causes her to go to college after she quit. Education has its own meaning to every person including Katie and Mary Rommely, and Francie’s Boss. Even though some of the people Francie knew have had a negative impact on her education, she strives on to college where she works hard to get a college diploma.
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