A Sense Of Self In Johnny Nolan's Francie

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A sense of self is something Francie Nolan lacks in Brooklyn, New York. It is not because of a lack of love or female influence; she is impacted by the desires of females who have no opportunities in life because they are female. As Francie is about to graduate her teacher Miss Gardner advises her to burn her words about “poverty starvation and drunkenness” as they are “ugly subjects.” Her teacher wants her to write about the “''the true nobility of man'' and stick within the code of conduct. She goes on to explain that one does not write about the unspeakable aspects of society (Smith 315). The ideology of the teacher contradicts what Francie’s illiterate grandmother Mary Rommely instills in her daughters and her granddaughters. As an illiterate…show more content…
She wants success for her children and the way to achieve success in American is to know how to read and write. She also attributes knowledge to reading a page from the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare. Mary instructs her own daughter to save money for property by nailing a tin can to the floor which in eventually is a piece of property, a cemetery plot for Johnny Nolan. Her grandmother has hope for her children and this hope is transferred to her grandchildren.
Katie Nolan, Francie's mother, is consistently filled with dread. She works all the time to support the family and her alcoholic husband. She realizes that she has settled by marrying Johnny Nolan and dreams of a day when he is no longer is in the picture. She wishes her husband dead ''He's worthless, worthless. And God forgive me for ever finding it out'' (Smith 205) and her contempt for life has a direct impact on her relationship with her daughter Francie. The emotional relationship is passive aggressive on the part of Katie as she consistently states that she loves her son more than her daughter, ''She does not love me the way the boy loves me . . . She does not understand me'' (Smith 205)
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