A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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Thomas Rommely Character Analysis

The father of Katie, Evy, Eliza, and Sissy, the husband of Mary Rommely, and the maternal grandfather of Francie and Neeley. He is an immigrant from Austria. Thomas is remembered as a cruel, hateful, greedy man. However, he is also thrifty and hardworking—qualities that Katie inherits. He leaves Austria with Mary to avoid being conscripted into the army. Thomas has strict views about racial and ethnic-mixing, believing that such unions produce “mongrel children.” Though he is competent in English, Thomas stubbornly refuses to speak it and forbids it in his home, though Mary has insisted that the girls speak English. As a result, the Rommely girls have little communication with their father while growing up. However, he never speaks to them anyway, except to curse them. With his wife, he is a brutal lover who kills all desire in her. When Thomas arrives from Austria, he gave his tithe of labor to the Church that the Nolans attend at Christmas. He carved the left side of the altar and saved the bits of gouged-out wood to make crucifixes for each of his three daughters, which Mary gave them on their wedding days, with the intention that the crosses would be passed down to each generation of daughters.
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Thomas Rommely Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Thomas Rommely appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...a four-month courtship. They marry in Katie’s church on New Year’s Day 1901. Katie’s father, Thomas, never forgave her for marrying, because he was no longer entitled to the income that... (full context)
Chapter 9
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Education and the American Dream Theme Icon
...to look after him. Katie wishes for no more children. Mary says that she and Thomas had little in the old country, but, in some ways, life in America has been... (full context)
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...again, though it was harder with all of the children. Then, when the Rommelys moved, Thomas found the money and bought a rooster and many hens. He said that they would... (full context)
Chapter 45
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
...Nolans attend mass together. Francie thinks that the church is the most beautiful in Brooklyn. Thomas Rommely gave his tithe of labor to this church and helped to carve its altar.... (full context)