A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn can help.

Uncle Willie Flittman Character Analysis

Aunt Evy’s husband. He is a discontented man who delivers milk for a living in a horse-drawn wagon. Despite missing the middle finger from his right hand, he plays the guitar well. Aside from this, however, Uncle Willie is dull. He also has a hostile relationship with his horse, Drummer, which Francie finds amusing. Uncle Willie continues to suffer from depression and takes to his bed when he finds out that he is too old to enter the army and join the war effort. Steve helps him get work at a munitions factory. Shortly thereafter, he starts practicing the bass drum and a pair of cymbals. After Francie buys him a harmonica, he adds it to his repertoire and thus forms a one-man band. His incessant drumming leads the family to move constantly, due to the disruption to the neighbors. He leaves Evy around the time that Mary Rommely dies, in favor of working as a busker. It seems that he made the decision after winning ten dollars in an amateur night at a movie house, where he competed against other one-man bands.
Get the entire A Tree Grows in Brooklyn LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn PDF

Uncle Willie Flittman Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Willie Flittman appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
...dons an apron while he washies the horse, Bob. Bob makes her think of Uncle Willie Flittman’s horse, Drummer, who pulls a milk wagon. However, Willie and Drummer have a hostile... (full context)
Chapter 6
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
When Francie gets home, Aunt Evy and Uncle Willie Flittman are there. Uncle Willie is playing his guitar. After his last song, he goes... (full context)
Chapter 31
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
In the year that Francie turns thirteen, war breaks out in Europe and Uncle Willie Flittman’s horse, Drummer, falls in love with Aunt Evy. Drummer drives Uncle Willie’s milk wagon.... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
As a result of his concussion, Uncle Willie cannot make his milk deliveries. Aunt Evy has never before driven a horse, but the... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...wanting her husband to lose his job, Evy offers to take over his route while Willie recovers. She argues that, since the milk is delivered in the dark, no one will... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...other drivers like her and even say that she is a better worker than Uncle Willie. Like Willie, Evy brings Drummer to the house at dinner time. She takes his oats... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
When Uncle Willie recovers and goes back to work, Drummer refuses to leave the stable with Willie or... (full context)
Chapter 32
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Later in June, Uncle Willie gets a new horse, Bessie, who does worse than wet on him. In July, Sergeant... (full context)
Chapter 50
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Uncle Willie tries to join the army and fails. At the same time, he quits his job... (full context)
Chapter 55
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Uncle Willie leaves his family in favor of roaming the streets of Brooklyn as a one-man band... (full context)