Betty Smith Quotes (54 Quotes)


    It was a good thing that she got herself into this other school. It showed her that there were other worlds beside the world she had been born into and that these other worlds were not unattainable.

    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.

    It was so simple that a flash of astonishment that felt like pain shot through her head. Education! That was it! It was education that made the difference! Education would pull them ut of the grame and dirt.


    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.


    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.

    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.


    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!

    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.



    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.




    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.

    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



    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.



    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.

    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.

    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.

    She had born a child but two hours ago. She was so weak that she couldn't lift her head an inch from the pillow, yet it was she who comforted him and told him not to worry, that she would take care of him.




    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 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.

    Because the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination.


    Brooklyn was a dream. All the things that happened there just couldn't happen. It was all dream stuff. Or was it all real and true and was it that she, Francie, was the dreamer?

    But the penciled sheets did not seem like nor smell like the library book so she had given it up, consoling herself with the vow that when she grew up, she would work hard, save money and buy every single book that she liked.

    Everything, decided Francie after that first lecture, was vibrant with life adn there was no death in chemistry. She was puzzled as to why learned people didn't adopt chemistry as a religion.


    I don't know. 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 just to be ... safe. At least she knows she's living.

    I know that's what people say-- you'll get over it. I'd say it, too. But I know it's not true. Oh, youll be happy again, never fear. But you won't forget. Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him.

    All my life I've been lonely. I've been lonely at crowded parties. I've been lonely in the middle of kissing a girl and I've been lonely at camp with hundreds of fellows around. But now I'm not lonely any more.


    As she read, at peace with the world and happy as only a little girl could be with a fine book and a little bowl of candy, and all alone in the house, the leaf shadows shifted and the afternoon passed.

    We've used a lot of stuff since the Can-Care-A-Van. We go through pork and beans and green beans and things like that so fast. I've had to replenish those twice already.

    Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay let me be sad. Let me be cold let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere -- be decietful. Let me be truthf

    The difference between rich and poor is that the poor do everything with their own hands and the rich hire hands to do things.


    More Betty Smith Quotations (Based on Topics)


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

    More Betty Smith Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    Related Authors


    Tom Clancy - Thomas Hardy - Sidney Sheldon - Salman Rushdie - Robert Ludlum - Nathaniel Hawthorne - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Erich Segal - Emily Bronte - Anne Bronte


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