A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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Aunt Sissy’s third husband, whom she calls “John,” as she did with all of her other husbands and lovers. The family, in turn, calls him “The John,” “Uncle John,” or “Sissy’s John.” With Steve, she raises a daughter, Sarah, and settles into domestic life. Steve works at a publishing house that prints pulp magazines, which Francie likes to read. After confirming that Sissy is divorced from her second husband, Steve remarries Sissy in a Methodist church. It is heavily implied in Chapter 47 that Steve is the father of Sarah, or “Little Sissy.” He and Sissy also have a biological son together, Stephen Aaron. During the First World War, Steve works as the foreman at a munitions factory on Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn.
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Steve Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Steve appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...she’ll return on the first of the month with some pulp magazines from her husband Steve’s publishing house. Francie reads the detective stories, love stories, wild west stories, and supernatural stories... (full context)
Chapter 34
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...that she is going to get a baby. Sissy wants to adopt a child, but Steve, her third “John,” will not raise “another man’s bastard.” Sissy finds out that a beautiful... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
When Steve comes home that night, he asks Sissy, jokingly, if she has had her baby. She... (full context)
Chapter 39
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Education and the American Dream Theme Icon
Class and Snobbery Theme Icon
...Nola, who is brought up in luxury. Francie thinks that, when it’s finished, she’ll ask Steve, or “Aunt Sissy’s John,” to publish it. Then, she’ll present the book to Miss Garnder... (full context)
Chapter 47
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...died in a blaze. The newspaper declares Sissy his widow and she gets his pension. Steve protests that, when he married Sissy, she said she was divorced. Sissy never thought she... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...Francie says that it might seem funny that Sissy got a baby so soon when Steve’s letter to her ex-husband said that they were planning to marry. Sissy insists on Francie... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Steve gets a marriage license and marries Sissy all over again in a Methodist church. For... (full context)
Chapter 50
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
...same time, he quits his job with the milk company and declares himself a failure. Steve is working as a foreman at a munitions factory and gets Willie a job there.... (full context)