A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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Hildy O’Dair Character Analysis

Katie’s former best friend and Johnny’s girlfriend before he meets Katie. Hildy is a “bold” young woman of Irish descent, who knows all of the latest songs and is a good dancer. She and Katie work together at the Castle Braid Factory, but their friendship ends as a result of Hildy believing that Katie has “stolen” Johnny away from her. When Johnny dies, Hildy shows up at the funeral and sobs noticeably. When Katie overhears this, she is initially outraged that any woman would dare to express more grief than she in response to Johnny’s death. When she turns around in her pew and sees that it is Hildy, she softens, remembering how much Hildy loved Johnny, too.

Hildy O’Dair Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by Hildy O’Dair or refer to Hildy O’Dair. 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 7 Quotes

Feeling his arms around her and instinctively adjusting herself to his rhythm, Katie knew that he was the man she wanted. She'd ask nothing more than to look at him and to listen to him for the rest of her life. Then and there, she decided that those privileges were worth slaving for all her life. Maybe that decision was her great mistake. She should have waited until some man came along who felt that way about her. Then her children would not have gone hungry; she would not have had to scrub floors for their living and her memory of him would have remained a tender shining thing. But she wanted Johnny Nolan and no one else and she set out to get him.

Related Characters: Johnny Nolan, Katie Nolan, Hildy O’Dair
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
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Hildy O’Dair Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character Hildy O’Dair appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...Katie and Johnny reminisce in the kitchen, recalling when they first met. Johnny was dating Hildy O’Dair at the time.  (full context)
Chapter 7
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
In the summer of 1900, Johnny Nolan meets Katie Rommely. Hildy O’Dair, Katie’s best friend, invites Katie along when she and her boyfriend, Johnny, go dancing... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...the factory whistle blows, the other girls stream out of the Castle Braid Factory, including Hildy. She smiles “possessively” when she sees Johnny, but the smile turns into a grimace of... (full context)
Chapter 36
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...see what woman would dare to weep for Johnny. When she sees that it is Hildy O’Dair, she softens. She notices that Hildy looks old for her age, though she is... (full context)