A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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Little Tilly Character Analysis

Gussie’s three-year-old sister. Johnny one day takes her, Francie, and Neeley to Canarsie to go fishing. Johnny feels sorry for Tilly, due to her being the younger sister of a boy whom he finds repulsive. Tilly does not speak at all during the trip until Johnny drops her off at her apartment. Her mother is outraged when Tilly arrives dripping wet and smelling of vomit from having thrown up on the way home. She finally utters, “T’anks,” before her mother ushers her inside.
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Little Tilly Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Little Tilly 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
...to take them to Canarsie, and he also gets the idea of taking along Little Tilly, whom he has never met. Tilly’s brother is Gussie, a “tough little hellion” with “an... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...to the neighborhood. Johnny, too, hears the story and feels contempt for Gussie for cheating Tilly out of something important. He thinks that she might grow up “thwarted.” He sends Francie... (full context)
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
...Sunday, the three children set out for Canarsie. Francie is eleven, Neeley is ten, and Tilly is three years old. Johnny wears a tuxedo, a derby hat, and a fresh collar... (full context)
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Horrified, Francie, Neeley, and Tilly watch Johnny impale an earthworm on a hook. The sun grows bright and hot. After... (full context)
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
After lunch, Johnny rows Francie, Neeley, and Tilly back out to sea. He sings as he rows. Eventually, his hands get so blistered... (full context)
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
...look strange—Johnny with his “green wrinkled salt-stiff pants” and an undershirt with big holes, Little Tilly “swallowed up in his coat” with saltwater dripping from her, and Francie and Neeley with... (full context)
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
...it gets crowded, but no one will sit next to Johnny, Francie, Neeley, or Little Tilly. Finally, the fish falls out of “the sodden newspaper” and to the floor. One look... (full context)
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
...a spoiled suit, sunburn, rotting fish, and a feeling of nausea. He wonders why Little Tilly’s mother couldn’t understand the intention and overlook the result. He can’t figure any of it... (full context)