Study Guide

The Fiorello Family (Mr. and Mrs. Fiorello, Maurice, Laurence, and Frank) in Brooklyn: A Novel

By Colm Tóibín

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The Fiorello Family (Mr. and Mrs. Fiorello, Maurice, Laurence, and Frank)

This riotous Italian-American family is a far cry from Eilis' stoic Irish kin, but she digs them just the same.

That being said, she doesn't get that close to them as individuals. She knows that Maurice is quiet and nerdy, and that Laurence is a lot like his little bro (and Eilis' bae) Tony. Both of Tony's parents are really nice too, but the thing we remember most about them is that they sleep in a pull-out bed in the middle of their living room. This emphasizes both their working-class lifestyle and their commitment to family.

Out of everyone, however, Frank is Eilis' favorite. Frank is so exuberant, so sharp, and so full of energy that Eilis thinks to herself that he is "the most beautiful boy she had ever seen in her life" (3.544). Maybe Eilis is so taken with Frank because he's like Tony, and we might even argue that she sees flashes of her future Italian-Irish-American kids in him.

We're not trying to say that the family is perfect or anything—Eilis is mighty uncomfortable the first time she visits, after all. Over time, however, her comfort levels grows until, one night soon after her engagement, she hopes that the family's "good cheer" is because Tony "had told them that he and she were getting married," which represents her wanting to be a part of their family (3.940). No matter what happens between her and Tony, we're confident that Eilis will treasure her memories with the wild Fiorello clan.

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