The essential traits of Mick Kelly are great creative energy and courage. She is defeated by society before she can even fully begin her life, but still there is something in her and in those like her that cannot and will not be destroyed.
"Mick did roam around the house during the afternoon because she could not get settled. Some days were just like that." (p. 51)
Mick is perhaps the most outstanding character in the book. Because of her age and temperament, her relation with the mute is more accentuated than any other person's. Her story is that of the violent struggle of a gifted child to get what she needs from an unyielding environment. At the beginning she is a crude child on the threshold of a period of awakening and development—her energies and the possibilities before her without limits. She begins to go forward boldly in the face of all her obstacles, but things are beyond her control. Her tragedy does not come in any way from herself. She is robbed of her freedom and energy by an unprincipled and wasteful society.
"The hot afternoon passed slowly and Mick still sat on the steps by herself. This fellow Motsart's music was in her mind again. She wished there was some place she could go to hum it out loud." (p. 53)
To Mick, music is the symbol of beauty and freedom. She has had no musical background and her chances for educating herself are very small. Her love for music is instinctive and intensely creative. She is always making up tunes for herself and she plans to compose great symphonies and operas. Her plans are always definite in a certain way, and she is thoroughly egotistical. The crudely childish side of her nature comes in side by side with her maturity.
"What the hell good was it. All the plans she had made, and the music. When all that came of it was this trap." (p. 350)
After the death of Singer, Mick feels very alone and defenseless. The pressing economic conditions of her family are like a weight that never lifts from her heart. Since none of her siblings are responsible or able to provide for themselves, it becomes critical for her family that Mick find work, but the work is so oppressive that it causes her to fear she will lose track of her relationship with herself, which she finds through music, and her creative instincts.
Doctor Copeland | Jake | Biff