A Child Called "It"

A Child Called "It" Character List


The author and protagonist of this memoir. Dave was horrifically abused between the ages of 4 and 12 by his mother. He is a smart kid, but his home life makes it difficult for him to excel in school. Looking back, Dave feels that he is a stronger person after going through everything he had to endure.

Catherine Roerva

Dave's abusive mother. She started off as a loving family woman, and then, perhaps as a result of discipline, alcohol, and dissatisfaction with her life, singled out her middle son and tormented and starved him for eight years of his life, while leaving her other children alone.

Stephen Joseph

Dave's father. Dave originally believed that he would be his protector and keep him away from his mother. He is a passive, weak man, however, and allows his wife to control him rather than intervene to save his son. Eventually Dave's father leaves for good after his parents separate.


Dave's older brother, whom their mother does not abuse. Later in their childhood, he often hits Dave.


The fourth child in the family, who learns to despise Dave through watching his mother abuse him. He becomes their mother's "Little Nazi," watching Dave's every move for her.


The third child in the Pelzer family, who also learns to despise Dave and who hits him along with Ron.


Dave's youngest brother, whom Dave loves, even though he is not allowed anywhere near him.

Mr. Hansen

The principal of Dave's school. Dave spends a lot of time in his office, and Mr. Hansen knows that Dave is a problem student who steals food. He knows that Dave suffers abuse at the hands of his mother, but he does not intervene for a long time, until he calls the police officer to take Dave away when he is twelve years old.

Miss Moss

Dave's math teacher, who has repeatedly reported concerns about Dave's bruises.

The Nurse

The school nurse examines Dave on many occasions, taking note of his bruises. She knows what his mother does to him, but also does not intervene.


A girl at school who torments Dave, insisting that he should kill himself.


Dave's son, who appears in the epilogue of the book. Dave treats his son with all the love and care that Dave himself did not receive as a child.


A neighbor of the Pelzer's who watches the boys while their mother is at the hospital in labor. She then becomes good friends with Dave's mother, and asks why Dave is not allowed to play with the rest of the children.

Officer Smith

The police officer who comes to school to take Dave away from his mother.

Mr. Zeigler

Dave's fifth grade teacher, who gives him praise and encouragement, which makes Dave feel special and important. He writes a letter to Dave's mother about Dave's winning the contest to name the school newspaper, but she insists that there is nothing Dave can do to impress her.

Aunt Jose

Dave's aunt, with whom he stays while the rest of his family is on a camping vacation.


A classmate of Dave's who beats him up, making it so that Dave is not even safe at school.

Miss Woods

Another of Dave's teachers. She attends the meeting where Dave is told he is being taken away from his mother.