Mr. Henry is a boarder who rents a room in the MacTeer family household. He has a reputation for being soft-spoken and hard-working, although he has a secret, promiscuous side and a desire for young girls. He easily befriends Claudia and Frieda and earns their trust. Later, however, he touches Frieda's breasts and is kicked out of their home. The significance of this character is to highlight the girls' innocence and the role of black female sexuality in their community. Although Claudia knows what Mr. Henry did to her teenage sister was wrong, she is confused about it and wonders what it feels like to be desired. Afterward, when their neighbor says that Frieda is now "ruined," they misinterpret what this means and think that it means she is getting fat, again showing that they are young, innocent girls who are exposed to sexuality too soon by men who they trust.