A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


Betty Smith

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Carney Character Analysis

The owner of the junk business where Francie and Neeley trade the junk they find in their building for cash. He hair, moustache, and eyes are all “rusty” colored, and Francie notes how Carney is fond of little girls. He pinches her cheek and gives her an additional penny when she visits. After Francie turns thirteen and shows signs of developing, she writes in her diary about how Carney “pinches something else” during one of her visits.

Carney Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by Carney or refer to Carney. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn published in 1943.
Chapter 33 Quotes

If normal sex was a great mystery in the neighborhood, criminal sex was

an open book. In all poor and congested city areas, the prowling sex fiend

is a nightmarish horror that haunts parents. There seems to be one in every neighborhood. There was one in Williamsburg in that year when Francie turned fourteen. For a long time, he had been molesting little girls, and although the police were on a continual lookout for him, he was never caught. One of the reasons was that when a little girl was attacked, the parents kept it secret so that no one would know and discriminate against the child and look on her as a thing apart and make it impossible for her to resume a normal childhood with her playmates.

Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:
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Carney Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Carney appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Class and Snobbery Theme Icon
...metal, and other bits of trash during the week, then they haul it in to Carney’s. Other kids taunt them for being rag-pickers, though those children also pick around in trash... (full context)
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Carney’s junk business is located in a former stable that is in disrepair. He always gives... (full context)
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
...which is the location of the finest nickel-and-dime store in Brooklyn. With the addition of Carney’s penny, Francie has a nickel to spend in the store. She enjoys touching all of... (full context)
Chapter 43
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
...a friend who works there. On their way home after collecting their pay, they pass Carney’s and Cheap Charlie’s. Francie asks Neeley if he remembers when they collected junk. He says... (full context)
Chapter 56
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
...Laurie into her “two-wheeled sulky” and takes her outside. She watches kids lug junk to Carney’s and then go to Cheap Charlie’s. Francie goes into Charlie’s with a fifty-cent piece and... (full context)