A Tree Grows in Brooklyn By Betty Smith Character Analysis Aunt Sissy

Sissy Rommely is Katie's oldest sister. Sissy is the only Rommely daughter to not attend school, and thus, she cannot read and write. Sissy is generous and loving. She longs for motherhood and gives birth to ten babies, all of whom die at birth. When she cannot be a mother, Sissy mothers Katie's children, and as a result, they love her, especially Francie. Sissy misdirects much of her need to mother into unwise sexual encounters. She has three husbands, all of whom are called John because that is a name she loves. After her first four children die, she leaves that husband, whom she thinks is responsible for the babies' deaths, and marries again. She does the same thing with the second husband after her children with him all die. Sissy is unconventional in many ways. She does not bother divorcing her husbands. She was not married to them in the church, and thus as a Catholic, she does not consider herself married to these men in God's eyes. She also has many lovers, seeking always to fill her heart, which really needs a baby to be full. Sissy uses her sexuality to attract men, and this gets her into trouble, especially after she embarrasses Katie in front of the neighbors. The other side of Sissy's sexual nature is her giving and compassionate heart, which readers learn is more important than her promiscuity. After she finally adopts the baby she longs to mother, Sissy becomes a loyal and loving wife. When she is finally able to give birth to a baby who lives, it is because she rebels against the tradition that only women can be present at a birth. In choosing a Jewish male doctor, Sissy breaks with traditions, just as she has all her life.

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During the summer after graduation from elementary school, Francie begins to work at a factory that produces what?




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