A Girl Named Joanna

Note: Please forgive my lack of blogging! I am seriously so, so exhausted in this pregnancy and still feeling nauseous much of the time. If I have any free moments in the day, I usually end up falling asleep…but, I am resolved to blog when I can so please stick with me!:)

* * * * *

Tonight I started crying for the plight of a girl named Joanna, a fictional character from the novel “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn,” yet a girl whose story has likely been told in the lives of other girls of the age (turn of the century).

A beautiful girl with “skin like magnolias” and hair “as black as ravens,” Joanna finds herself pregnant at 18 by a boy who disappears from her life and she is placed in the unfortunate position of being the neighborhood harlot and the subject of gossip for many a housewife. She welcomes motherhood with joy and pride and is not scared to bring her child outside on the weekends for fresh air. The neighbors though abhor her fearless abandon and feel her child should never see the light of day…they detest Joanna’s obvious pride. It is inappropriate…she should cloak herself and her child in shame the rest of her days.

“A gasp came up from some housewives who had stopped to gossip on the sidewalk while going to and fro about their shopping. You see, Joanna was not married. She was a girl who had gotten into trouble. Her baby was illegitimate-bastard was the word they used in the neighborhood-and these good women felt that Joanna had no right to act like a proud mother and bring her baby out into the light of day.”

And this is where I started crying…one day while Joanna is out walking her baby, the neighborhood women begin taunting her unmercifully which then turns into stone throwing. One by one, more and more women begin throwing stones at Joanna. They miss her but not her beautiful baby. One sharp stone pierces her baby in the forehead. Blood immediately begins trickling and crying, Joanna picks up her baby, leaving the stroller in the middle of the street, and runs inside her house. All I could imagine is how I would feel if one of my babies was pierced in the forehead by a stone thrown by taunters, hurdling insults, caring little for the injury they had just inflicted.

Further reading will tell whether we find out more about Joanna and her baby but one thing is for sure, I was deeply touched. I have seen Joanna’s around me in the past, even in the church. I grieve for how I often followed suit as a child and subtly chastised these girls in my heart because I saw other Christians doing the same and never thought to do otherwise. I was so pius. More high profile examples would be Bristol Palin, a girl who the mainstream media and neighborhoods alike deemed every crude name imaginable.

Who knew a fictional girl could have such an impact on my evening! Betty Smith, you knew how to write a good story! I will treasure this one always!

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5 Responses to A Girl Named Joanna

  1. Grace says:

    I need to read that book…thought about it but never have:)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Interesting that in Christ's lineage are two fallen women: Rahab the harlot, and Judah's daughter-in-law Tamar.Dad

  3. Anonymous says:

    Have never read it…Look forward to hearing how it ends. Mom

  4. Rick Rose says:

    Not to mention our very own, youthful looking Susanna who gets assumptions and comments. I still think you should have a feature on your blog for snotty comment of the week said to Susanna. =)

  5. Jessalyn says:

    Oh, that would make me cry as well. It is amazing when you have children how you are suddenly able to understand certain pains so well. I couldn't even watch Rocket Boy the other day without crying!

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