A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


Betty Smith

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The Child Molester Character Analysis

A “thin and undersized” man whom Francie encounters near the cellar of her building. The predator has already killed a seven-year-old girl from Francie’s neighborhood. He wears “a shabby dark suit” and has “thick bushy hair,” “a beaked nose,” and a mouth that looks like “a thin crooked line.” When he comes toward Francie with “his lower garments opened,” Katie shoots him with the gun that Johnny got from Burt. The child molester survives the shooting and is sent to prison.

The Child Molester Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by The Child Molester or refer to The Child Molester. 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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The Child Molester Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character The Child Molester appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 33
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...both hands to keep it steady. She runs back down the stairs. At this point, the child molester grabs Francie and claps a hand over her mouth. Francie hears a sound. She looks... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...the causes. The intern marvels at how Francie’s parents did more damage to her than the child molester . He smooths down Francie’s dress, pats her cheek, and gives her a shot to... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...hospital and asks if the doctor is ready to leave. Katie asks if she killed the child molester . The doctor says that she didn’t, but he’ll soon be back on his feet... (full context)
Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerability Theme Icon
...only a few lines. Katie testifies about what happened and is not arrested for shooting the child molester . In fact, the judge shakes hands with her. Eventually, the whole affair fades into... (full context)
Romanticism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
...a collection that was taken up at the police station to thank her for catching the child molester . Katie refuses the money. Quietly, she wonders if McShane will ever have the happiness... (full context)