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Course Hero. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Aug. 2017. Web. 13 Dec. 2018. <>.

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Course Hero. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2018.


Course Hero, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed December 13, 2018,

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Characters

Character Description
Francie Nolan Mary Frances ("Francie") is Katie and Johnny Nolan's daughter. She is the novel's protagonist. Read More
Katie Nolan Katie is married to Johnny Nolan. She is Francie, Neeley, and Annie Laurie's mother, and Thomas and Mary Rommely's daughter. She, along with her older sisters Sissy, Eva, and Eliza, is a first-generation American. Read More
Johnny Nolan Johnny is Katie's husband, and Francie and Neeley's father. He is also Annie Laurie's father, but he dies before her birth. Read More
Aunt Sissy Sissy is Katie and Evy's sister, and Thomas and Mary's eldest daughter. A big-hearted woman with a healthy sexual appetite, Sissy never got to go to school, so she cannot read or write. Read More
Neeley Nolan Cornelius ("Neeley") is Francie's brother. He is younger by a year. Read More
Aunt Evy Aunt Eva ("Evy") is Katie's sister. She is married to Willie Flittman, of whom she does an excellent impersonation. Read More
Anita Anita is one of Francie's co-workers. She gets Francie to go out on a double date with her and her fiancé, whose Army buddy, Lee, is with him.
Ben Blake Ben meets Francie on her first day of college. They become friends, and eventually, more. Ben is ambitious, organized, and motivated.
Miss Briggs Miss Briggs is Francie's first teacher. Sissy confronts her after learning that Francie wet her pants because Miss Briggs wouldn't allow the poor children to use the bathroom.
Carney For a few pennies, Carney buys scraps of junk from the neighborhood kids. He gives the little girls an extra penny if they let him pinch them.
Cheap Charlie Charlie owns the penny candy store. He's cheap, because he lets the children think buying a penny ticket will get them a prize.
Christmas tree lot owner Every year, the Christmas tree lot owner chucks trees at anyone willing. If they are still standing after the tree lands, they get the tree for free.
Doctor The Harvard intern who vaccinates Francie and Neeley when they begin school is utterly uncompassionate.
Maudie Donovan Maudie is Francie's childhood friend. They go to confession together. Maudie moves away, but returns later to visit.
Drummer Uncle Willie Flittman's milk cart horse, Drummer, loathes Willie, but falls in love with Evy, who takes over Willie's milk route after Drummer kicks him unconscious.
Aunt Eliza Eliza is one of the Rommely sisters. She has no direct contact with the family after she enters a convent, emerging only to attend her father's funeral.
Uncle Willie Flittman Willie Flittman is Aunt Evy's husband. Feeling like he's a failure in life, since even his horse disrespects him, Willie eventually abandons his family.
Frank Frank drives Dr. Fraber's dental advertising wagon. He asks Flossie to marry him in order to avoid the military draft.
Flossie Gaddis Flossie Gaddis is Francie's boy-crazy downstairs neighbor. The teenager maintains an elaborate set of costumes for Saturday night parties.
Henny Gaddis Henny Gaddis is Flossie's younger brother. He dies of consumption, also known as pulmonary tuberculosis, a bacterial lung disease.
Mrs. Gaddis Mrs. Gaddis is Henny and Flossie's mother.
Miss Garnder Francie's eighth-grade English teacher, Miss Garnder, gives Francie bad grades on compositions written after Johnny's death, deeming the topics sordid.
Gussie Gussie is Tilly's brother. He refuses to stop breastfeeding, thereby preventing Tilly from getting enough nutrition.
Hassler Hassler is the butcher who gives Francie a free slice of bologna because she is so thin.
Jim/John Sissy's first husband, Jim is a fireman and "a good man." Sissy begins calling him John while she's pregnant, telling him she wants to name him after the baby. The name sticks. Their marriage falls apart, however, when her children are stillborn.
Mr. Jenson Mr. Jenson is the janitor at Francie's second school. The students love and respect him even more than they do the principal, who addresses him as "Mr. Jenson."
Joanna Joanna is the young woman who dares take her illegitimate baby out in public. She gets into a fight with some women who call her names, and they throw stones at her, stopping only after one hits the baby.
John Sissy's second husband, whose real name no one knows. "John" is also what she calls all her subsequent lovers.
Lucia Lucia is the young Sicilian woman whose illegitimate pregnancy gives Aunt Sissy the opportunity to adopt a baby. Mistreated by her family—her father locks her in her room, giving her only bread and water—Lucia is cared for by Sissy.
Mary Mary is the little rich girl who gives away a doll to another girl named Mary (Francie) at the church's Christmas event.
Mae McGarrity Mae McGarrity is Mr. McGarrity's wife. She is both unfaithful to him and not interested in their marriage.
Mr. McGarrity Mr. McGarrity owns the neighborhood saloon where Johnny drinks. After Johnny dies, he visits the Nolan family and offers Francie and Neeley jobs so they can stay in school.
Sergeant Michael McShane Sergeant Michael McShane is the police officer who has long had eyes for Katie Nolan. He is steady, kind, and generous. After leaving a respectful period for Katie to mourn Johnny, he asks her to marry him and vows to care for her and her family, and Katie agrees—not for his money, but because he is a good man whom she wants to be with.
Andy Nolan Andy is the eldest Nolan son. He dies of tuberculosis.
Annie Laurie Nolan Annie Laurie Nolan is Katie and Johnny's youngest daughter. She is born after her father's death.
Frankie Nolan Frankie is another Nolan son who also dies young when he falls on something sharp while drunk.
Georgie Nolan Georgie is another Nolan son. He dies at age 28.
Nurse The nurse attends the doctor who gives the children their vaccinations. She is from Brooklyn, but tries to distance herself from her past.
Hildy O'Dair Hildy is Johnny's first girlfriend. Katie and she were best friends before Katie lured him away from her.
Granma Mary Rommely Granma Mary Rommely is Katie, Sissy, Eliza, and Evy's mother, and Francie and Neeley's grandmother. She is an intensely religious woman who, though uneducated, is very wise.
Thomas Rommely Thomas Rommely is Katie, Sissy, Eliza, and Evy's father, and Francie and Neeley's grandfather. He is a brutal and selfish man.
Steve Steve is Aunt Sissy's third and final husband. Like other men, Steve defers to Sissy, but eventually puts his foot down and insists she call him by his real name (instead of John, as she has called all of her beaus in the past) and marry him in a church.
Lee Rhynor Lee is the 22-year-old soldier with whom Francie falls in love. He betrays her by lying about being in love with her; he's engaged to marry another girl back in Pennsylvania before he ships off.
Albie Seedmore While Francie and her family celebrate graduation at an ice cream parlor, Albie asks her on her first date.
Tilly Tilly is a little girl whose brother, Gussie, prevents her from getting enough to eat because he won't stop breastfeeding. Johnny feels sorry for her and brings her along on the ill-fated fishing trip.
Miss Lizzie Tynmore Miss Lizzie Tynmore and her sister live in Francie's building. She teaches piano, and since she is very poor, relies on her students to make enough money to eat.
Florry Wendy Florry Wendy sits on a fire escape reading a book at the end of the novel. She reminds Francie of herself.
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