A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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A six-year-old boy in Francie’s neighborhood. He is known for suckling on his mother’s breast until the age of four, depriving his younger sister, Little Tilly, of their mother’s milk. He continues to suckle until, one day, his mother paints her breast black and draws a monstrous-looking mouth on the nipple in red lipstick. After this, Gussie is weaned off of his mother’s breast for good and drinks black coffee instead.
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Gussie Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Gussie appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 29
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...the idea of taking along Little Tilly, whom he has never met. Tilly’s brother is Gussie, a “tough little hellion” with “an overdeveloped underlip.” His mother tries to wean him off... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Gussie’s mother rips open her dress and thrusts her grotesquely made-up breast at him. For a... (full context)