what is the social significance in the novel
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Upon publication, the book was met with both praise and criticism. Smith was interrogated about her purpose for the book. Indeed, some accused it as overtly political; as social commentary, it was pro-union, compassionate toward the poor, and sexually libelous. Smith herself denied ever intending to write a book of "social significance." Instead, she had written out of her own experience, about people she both knew and liked. Still, even while the author denied a political purpose, the book cannot be separated from social issues.
People of all classes in society were reading the book when it first came out. Since most of the novel takes place between 1900 and 1917, place it was even then a nostalgic trip back to an innocent time before the two World Wars.
Today, the book remains a classic, read widely among school children. Oprah Winfrey called it one of the ten books that has deeply affected her life. Perhaps its popularity is partially attributed to Smith's sympathetic portrayal of her characters. Within the book's pages, people cannot be moralized or reformed; they are what they are, sometimes even without explanation. As her first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn gained more popularity than any of Smith's other books. Her novels include Tomorrow Will Be Better (1947), Maggie-Now (1958), and Joy in the Morning (1963). She also wrote many plays before her death in 1972.