A Child Called "It" Characters

  • David Pelzer, the author and narrator, who suffers terrible abuse at the hands of his mother.
  • Catherine Roerva Pelzer, David's mother, who beats, starves, and terrorizes her son David.
  • Stephen Pelzer, David's father, a fireman and alcoholic who allows the abuse to happen.
  • Ron and Stan, David's older brothers, who treat David like a pariah at home.
  • Russell, David's younger brother, who is trained to monitor David and report back to their mother about any infractions.
  • Aunt Josie, with whom David stays while his family is on vacation one summer.
  • Miss Moss, David's teacher, who reports her suspicions of child abuse to the principal.


David Pelzer

David Pelzer is the author and narrator of the bestselling memoirs A Child Called "It" and The Lost Boy. A Child Called "It" tells the harrowing story of David's abuse at the hands of his mother, a violent alcoholic who concocts horrific ways of torturing David. At first, the abuse is comparatively tame, with Mother forcing David to stand in a corner or in front of a mirror for hours at a time. Soon, however, the abuse intensifies, and David is regularly beaten for imagined infractions. His mother refuses to buy him new clothes or shoes, so he wears the same ones every day, growing increasingly dirty and smelly. She also refuses to feed him, so he's forced to steal food, first from his fellow students, then from a grocery store, then the school cafeteria. When she discovers this habit, she starts forcing him to throw up after school and once even makes him eat the vomit. From there, the abuse becomes even more horrific. She wipes his brother's dirty diaper across his face, attempts to burn him on the stove, and stabs him "accidentally" while he's doing chores. Finally, his teachers call the police to report their suspicions of child abuse. David is free.

Catherine Roerva Pelzer

David's mother is a vicious woman who singles out David for abuse. Early on in the memoir, she displays signs of mania, but it's unclear what mental illness she suffers from, if any. Her behavior becomes increasingly erratic, until finally the happy, loving mother David once knew is replaced by a monster. No mental illness or claims of alcoholism could justify her treatment of David. Her many atrocities include forcing David to drink ammonia, burning him on the stove, refusing to feed him for days at a time, smearing feces on his face, and stabbing him in the chest. The nature of the abuse changes depending on who else is present. For a time, David's father Stephen is able to protect...

(The entire section is 516 words.)