Random Thoughts about Brooklyn🗽(by Colm Tóibín)

That rare moment when I love both, the book and the movie. In the movie, they managed to beautifully depict the story without major alternations and with some additional short but meaningful scenes. 

>>> SPOILER ALERT <<<

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín


“Two Counties, Two Loves, One Heart”

I believe this movie slogan truly depicts the main idea of the movie and the novel itself. The author Colm Tóibín tells us a story about a young woman from Ireland who moves to America in seeking a better life for herself, leaving her mother and older sister. We follow the main character, Eilis Lacey to Brooklyn where she tries to settle, goes to work, takes bookkeeping courses, explore American culture and lifestyle and tries to fit in, but still misses her home. After a while she got used to it, we can even say, she somehow succeeds in living up to American lifestyle. She even meets an Italian guy who she falls in love with.

Just when the life seems to be perfect and Brooklyn seems to feel like home, the thunder strikes. Back in her hometown, Enniscorthy, her older sister dies, who appeared to be sick for quite a while already but no one knew. Here comes a decision to make, go back home and console her mother or stay at her ‘new home’ and live her ‘new life’. 

It made her feel strangely as though she were two people, one who had battled against two cold winters and many hard days in Brooklyn and fallen in love there, and the other who was her mother’s daughter, the Eilis whom everyone knew, or thought they knew.

Not just a love story

I think the novel goes beyond just a love story and struggles of a young lady. 

  • difference between to countries that seem to be two different worlds
  • slightly about stereotypes and prejudice about other countries
  • the author even touches upon merging of black and white people in one society
  • person’s growth and evolving in a new environment
  • learning who you are and where you belong
  • concept of ‘home’
  • anything to add?

What is ‘home’?

What is home? Obviously most people would answer it’s where you come from, where you have been born etc, where your family is, the list could be endless. But what is home to you? Where is it? We sure heard a lot saying such as ‘home is where your heart is’, ‘home is where your soul is’, ‘home is where your loved are’ etc. Or let’s try this, home is where you can be yourself, home is where you feel comfortable. ??? WHERE IS IT?

From my experience living and working abroad, trying to figure out who you are and where you belong, and coming home after seriously vanishes the concept of home. Where is your home?

 


#RandomThought

In the novel, when Eilis comes back to Enniscorthy, we can encounter some type of stereotyping and controversy in itself. On the one hand, you visit your hometown after being away for quite a while and you are catching everyone’s gazes at yourself. You seem to be a stranger in your own hometown. Everyone’s asking what life is over there, expecting you to answer according to their stereotypes, and if you don’t you appear to become even more untrustworthy and weirder in their eyes. On the other hand, those who used to know you, who were your friends and acquaintances, try to treat you as you are the same person when you have left. But are you?


Here’s another question:

  • Is it just because you lived in another country you’ve changed? Is there anything wrong about that?

I would say NO.

Cuz when you come to a new country, you are obviously treated as a stranger with a strange new lifestyle and life morals that does not exactly fit. Then you learn, evolve, accept, modify their lifestyle and make it work with yours, thus, you change. And I truly believe those changes are positive as you learn something NEW. Interestingly, when you come back to so-called home, people start treating you as a stranger as well. Yes, you’ve changed. But is it just because those changes were brought from another country that you treated with such a difference?

Saying goodbye isn’t easy

The author does a great job depicting the scene when Eilis is confiding in her mother and saying goodbye. Between the lines you can feel mother’s reservedness, sorrow and support while saying goodbye.


#RandomThought

Eilis mentioned that she was never very close with her mother. But since she came back, her Mammy was cherishing every moment with her daughter, though she managed to ignore things she didn’t like or didn’t want to hear. Mrs. Lacey was proudly walking with her daughter through the town, and really took interest in her building life beside her. But the moment Eilis tells her the truth about her husband, something has changed. Obviously, she wouldn’t be trilled that her daughter kept such big news from her for a long time and that she had to go back to another country and leave her all alone. Her answer was bitter and dry but with as much understanding and support she could provide. Despite not the closest mother-daughter relationship, knowing that you are letting your only daughter alive go overseas for who knows how long, you would probably spend every single minute together before letting her from your goodbye embrace. But not here, I was struck at how cold and impatient her mother was about saying goodbye to her daughter. Of course, goodbyes are hard and painful, but going to bed earlier than usually and not wanting to see her daughter in the morning before she leaves was difficult to understand for me. 

How would you feel knowing that you are letting your only daughter to go away for maybe forever?


 

What are your random thoughts upon this reading?
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P.S. An easy read to go, especially if you are traveling overseas 🚢

 

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