Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” Quotes (47 Quotes)


    It was the last time she'd see the river from that window. The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn't held it tighter when you had it every day.

    She had heard Papa sing so many songs about the heart; the heart that was breaking - was aching - was dancing -was heavy laden - that leaped for joy - that was heavy in sorrow - that turned over - that stood still. She really believed the heart actually did those things.

    I need someone. I need to hold somebody close. And I need more than this holding. I need someone to understand how I feel at a time like now. And the understanding must be part of the holding.


    Katie had a fierce desire for survival which made her a fighter. Johnny had a hankering after immortality which made him a useless dreamer. And that was the great difference between these two who loved each other so well.


    She was surprised at how tiny the school seemed now. She supposed it was just as big as it had ever been only her eyes had grown used to looking at bigger things.



    Money! Would that make it better for them? Yes, it would make it easy. But no, the money wouldn't be enough… That means there must be something bigger than money… An answer came to Katie. It was so simple that a flash of astonishment that felt like a pain shot through her head. Education!

    She went out and took a last long look at the shabby little library. She knew she would never see it again. Eyes changed after they looked at new things. If in the years to be she were to come back, her new eyes might make everything seem different from the way she saw it now. The way it was now was the way she wanted to remember it.


    Who wants to die? Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It's growing out of sour earth. And it's strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.


    Sometimes I think it's better to suffer bitter unhappiness and to fight and to scream out, and even to suffer that terrible pain, than to just be... safe. At least she knows she's living.

    If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful. But because there are so many, you just can't see how beautiful it really is.


    No, Katie never fumbled. When she used her beautifully shaped but worn-looking hands, she used them with surety, whether it was to put a broken flower into a tumbler of water with one true gesture, or to wring out a scrub cloth with one decisive motion--the right hand turning in, and the left out, simultaneously. When she spoke, she spoke truly with the plain right words. And her thoughts walked in a clear uncompromising line.




    The library was a little old shaby place. Francie thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church. She pushed open the door and went in. She liked the cmbined smell of worn leather bindings, library past and freshly inked stamping pads better than she liked the smell of burning incense at high mass.

    Intolerance is a thing that causes war, pogroms, crucifixions, lynchings, and makes people cruel to little children and each other. It is responsible for most of the viciousness, violence, terror, and heart and soul breaking of the world.

    Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. She was Katie's secret, despairing weeping. She was the shame of her father staggering home drunk


    It doesn't take long to write things of which you know nothing. When you write of actual things, it takes longer, because you have to live them first.

    Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn New York. Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber as a word was better. But it did not apply to Williamsburg Brooklyn. Prairie was lovely and Shenandoah had a beautiful sound but you couldn't fit those words into Brooklyn. Serene was the only word for it especially on a Saturday afternoon in summer.

    The Nolan's just could't get enough of life. They lived their own lives up to the hilt but that wasn't enough. They had to fill in on the lives of all the people they made contact with.

    It meant that she belonged some place. She was a Brooklyn girl with a Brooklyn name and a Brooklyn accent. She didn't want to change into a bit of this and a bit of that.

    She adapted herself to the split-second rhythm of the New Yorker going to and from work. Getting to the office was a nervous ordeal. If she arrived one minute before nine, she was a free person. If she arrived one minute after, she worried because that made her the logical scapegoat of the boss if he happened to be in a bad mood that day.



    More Betty Smith Quotations (Based on Topics)


    World - Education - Life - Books - People - Library - Pain - Librarian - Beauty - Nature - Time - Suffering - Imagination & Visualization - Sadness - Place - Mind - Reading - Money & Wealth - Man - View All Betty Smith Quotations

    More Betty Smith Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    Related Authors


    V. S. Naipaul - Thomas Wolfe - Robertson Davies - Robert Ludlum - P. D. James - Miguel de Cervantes - Maxim Gorky - Mario Puzo - J. D. Salinger - Gabriel Garcia Marquez


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