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Eilis in 'Brooklyn'

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by

Jane Hedley

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of Eilis in 'Brooklyn'

Historical Context For many, the 1950s was a time when there was certainty about values; where everyone knew their place in the world and traditional customs and roles were observed.

Consider the constraints placed on women at this time and how Toibin has embedded this into his characterision of Eilis. Watch this short Youtube clip from "Mad Men"- also set in the 1950s, in New York. Toibin's understated style Toibin's writing style is plain and precise; he uses illustrative adjectives and adverbs sparsely, making descriptions seem more factual and less evocative. Thus, we need to read 'Brooklyn' very attentively. When a metaphor, a piece of imagery or a telling piece of dialogue from a character does crop up amongst Toibin's direct prose, it is possibly more effective than it might have otherwise been.

Pg. 23 What does the simile reveal about Eilis's relationship with Rose and her mother?
Pg. 32-33 What small details are included in this passage to indicate the beginning of a change in Eilis?
Pg. 67 from "She was nobody here." to "It was as though she had been locked away." Which words have been repeated? What is the cumulative effect of the repetition? What are the two examples of figurative language in this passage? Explain their effects.
What is the effect of "almost smiled" in the last lines of the novel? Why do you think Toibin made this final choice for his protagonist? Use of gaps in the narrative Consider what has been left out of the narrative (the gaps in the narrative,) when drawing inferences about characters and themes in the narrative.

After the advice Eilis receives from Georgina (regarding her arrival on Ellis Island in NY,) we don't actually read of Eilis's initial arrival in America. Why do you think Toibin decided to this leave out ?
The same thing occurs at the end of the novel; Eilis leaves Enniscorthy but we know nothing of her reunion with Tony. Why do you think Toibin ended the narrative in this way?
If "Brooklyn" were to be made into a film, would viewers today be satisfied with such an ending? Eilis in "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin What lies beneath the surface of the character? Text response topic 'Toibin resists offering readers a simply uplifting story but provides a more complex portrait of his protagonist, Eilis Lacey.' Discuss. Narrative Point of View Third person, limited narration is used by Toibin in "Brooklyn."The story is told from the point of view of a narrator who uses third-person pronouns ('he,' 'she,'they,') however, the perspective we gain is not omniscient (all seeing;) it is limited to that of Eilis. Why did Toibin choose this viewpoint?
Examine the passage on pg. 195 from "When they were away from Mrs. Keyhoe's..." to pg. 197 'If you can promise, then you can easily do this,' he said. How would this passage be different if we were given an omniscient POV?
How would Eilis's characterisation have been different, had Toibin employed first person narration? Would this also have impacted on the ideas/themes communicated? The use of contrasts Toibin juxtaposes various elements in the narrative to draw attention to certain ideas and examine different sides to characters. He contrasts the settings of Enniscorthy and Brooklyn; Coney Island beach and the beach at Cush Gap, near Enniscorthy. There are also many contrasts between characters, e.g. Tony and Jim Farrel.

What about Eilis and her sister, Rose- how are they contrasted?
To what extent do you think Toibin has constructed Rose as a foil for Eilis?
How does Toibin use contrast to explore the nature of migrant experience
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