Study Guide

Brooklyn: A Novel What's Up With the Title?

By Colm Tóibín

What's Up With the Title?

This novel takes place in Brooklyn. It's also called Brooklyn. What a crazy coinkydink.

But like most things in the magical world of Lit, this novel isn't just titled after its setting. Brooklyn means a variety of things for Eilis throughout her coming-of-age journey. At the beginning, it's a bizarre, foreign land. When she arrives, it's symbolic of everything that Ireland isn't, which makes her long for home. Eventually it becomes a second homeland… and then, when she returns to Ireland, she realizes that it has replaced her hometown as her real home.

Like other geographically-titled books (think Middlemarch, think Wuthering Heights) Brooklyn is about the ways that the culture of a specific location changes a life. For Eilis, she gets thrown headfirst into the melting pot… and realizes that it suits her just fine.

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