A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by

Betty Smith

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The Nurse Character Analysis

The daughter of poor Polish immigrants who spent her days working in a sweatshop and her nights going to school. The doctor with whom she works looks at Francie’s arm, dirtied from making mud pies, and comments to her about how filthy poor people generally are and remarks that they should be sterilized. Instead of taking umbrage at his comment, due to her own poor upbringing, the nurse agrees with the doctor. She realizes that she will later regret her unwillingness to speak up and say something kind to Francie, but she acknowledges that she is “small” and lacks courage.

The Nurse Quotes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The A Tree Grows in Brooklyn quotes below are all either spoken by The Nurse or refer to The Nurse . 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 18 Quotes

A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the bootstrap

route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can

forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion

and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the

cruel upclimb. The nurse had chosen the forgetting way. Yet, as she stood there, she knew that years later she would be haunted by the sorrow in

the face of that starveling child and that she would wish bitterly that she

had said a comforting word then and done something towards the saving

of her immortal soul. She had the knowledge that she was small but she

lacked the courage to be otherwise.

Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Nurse Character Timeline in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The timeline below shows where the character The Nurse appears in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 18
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Class and Snobbery Theme Icon
The nurse pulls up Francie’s sleeve and swabs her arm. The doctor makes his way toward her,... (full context)
Poverty and Perseverance Theme Icon
Class and Snobbery Theme Icon
...Francie’s arm, she doesn’t feel it. She is too hurt by the doctor’s words. While the nurse ties a strip of gauze to her arm, she speaks up and says that Neeley... (full context)