Gertrude Flannery is a little girl who lives in the Weeds’s neighborhood. She drifts from house to house, either making herself comfortable on other people’s porches or walking right into their homes. Those who do not know Gertrude’s family think her home life must be miserable, but her parents are actually attentive and caring. Gertrude stays away from home and wears ragged clothes as a form of rebellion. Neighbors have trouble getting rid of Gertrude because she generally ignores them when they tell her it is time to leave.
When Francis kisses Anne in his house’s foyer, he is surprised to discover that Gertrude is standing right in the hallway. Gertrude never tells anyone what she has seen, which makes the reader wonder what else the child may have seen in the neighborhood. Her character is significant for this reason: the residents of Shady Hill keep up appearances, yet Gertrude probably knows many of the residents’ secrets.
Donald Goslin is one of the Weeds’s neighbors. He plays his piano in the evenings, usually selecting ‘‘Moonlight Sonata.’’ He plays it at his own tempo rather than strictly following the sheet music.
Dr. Herzog is the psychiatrist whom Francis visits toward the end of the story. After seeing Francis for a week, Dr. Herzog convinces him that he (Francis) needs a distraction to serve as therapy. He suggests...
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