Study Guide

Brooklyn: A Novel Part 4

By Colm Tóibín

Part 4

  • Eilis' mother is showing off Rose's bedroom—she hasn't touched a thing since Rose passed away. Eilis is exhausted—both physically and emotionally—and just wants to go to sleep.
  • As of yet, however, she hasn't told her mom about her recent nuptials. We smell tension!
  • She feels a little better after the nap. It's time for work though—mom needs help writing personalized responses to all of the "letters of condolence" she received after Rose's death (4.16).
  • By the second day of this, Eilis is going out of her gourd. She decides to visit her friends Annette and Nancy (who's getting married to George, the dude from the first section of the novel) and invite them over to hang the following night.
  • The next day, she and her mom place wreaths on Rose's grave. It's a confusing and emotional experience.
  • She meets up with Nancy and Annette that night and Nancy explains that her wedding will be four days after Eilis' planned departure date. Ruh-oh. Eilis thinks that she can make it, though.
  • She plans to go to the beach with Nancy, Annette, and George Sheridan the following Thursday. Her mom tries to give her some of Rose's old clothes, but Eilis refuses them.
  • Suddenly, Eilis realizes that she has yet to write Tony. That's no good. She picks up "special envelopes for letters to America" and tells Tony that she's staying a few extra days (4.74).
  • When her buddies pick her up to go to the beach, she's shocked to see Jim Farrell (the dude she met at a dance way back at the beginning of the book) there instead of Annette. It's a trap!
  • Jim definitely tries to get all couple-y with her, which is complicated because no one knows that Eilis is married. She plays along—hesitantly—but feels a little guilty.
  • When she returns home, her mom tells her that the "Davises' offices"—where Rose used to work—needs some extra help bookkeeping, and asked about her (4.94). She agrees.
  • She also has a letter from Tony (oh no—did her mom see?), which is warm and loving and only makes her feel weirder about everything. She really wants to let the cat out of the bag.
  • She goes to work at the office the next morning. It's a breeze for her, and Eilis is psyched to finally put her schooling to work.
  • Eilis goes back to the beach with Nancy, George, and Jim that Sunday. Jim asks her to go into the water with him, and she agrees so as not to embarrass him—and bust her secret.
  • At the end of the day, they all take a picture together—with Jim happily embracing Eilis from behind.
  • They decide to party at a hotel and Eilis finds herself taken with Jim—they dance all night and end up making out the whole way home. Whoa.
  • On Monday, she's called back into the office. To her surprise, they offer her a job.
  • When she returns home, she finds "two letters from Tony" (4.188). Oh man... she realizes that she hasn't written him since telling him about the delay and feels all weird inside.
  • She and Jim go out on a date a few days before the wedding. He tells her that his parents are moving to the country, which leaves him the family pub. He's clearly getting at something...
  • Jim picks Eilis and her mom up for the wedding. To be honest, old mommy dearest seems overjoyed to see Eilis back home on the arm of an Irishman like Jim.
  • This all sends Eilis for a loop. She wonders what she would do if Jim asked to marry her and even claims that "she did not love Tony now" (4.226). That was, uh, fast.
  • At the wedding breakfast the next morning, a family friend makes tons of allusions to Eilis and Jim's wedding. Yikes.
  • Afterwards, Eilis and Jim go to the beach. He tells her that they're holding a golf tournament in honor of Rose, but it will happen a few days after she is set to leave. Decisions, decisions…
  • He then tells her that he has had a crush on her since they first met, and that he wants to get engaged. She doesn't give a response, so they just make out a bunch instead.
  • Eilis receives an official invitation to the golf tournament a few days later. She still hasn't made a decision.
  • A day before the event, Eilis visits Rose's grave. To her surprise, she's approached by Mary (from Miss Kelly's shop) who says that ol' Nelly Kelly wants to see her.
  • It's a strange, loaded conversation, during which it becomes clear that Miss Kelly knows about Tony. She must have talked to Mrs. Kehoe or something. This is bad, folks.
  • Eilis decides to depart that day. She makes all of the necessary calls and writes Tony telling him that "she loved him" (4.321). That's not what you told us, Eilis old girl.
  • Her mother is in the kitchen when she returns home. Eilis abruptly blurts out that she's married (which her mom already seems to know…) and that she needs to go back.
  • Her mom agrees and they embrace. Eilis suspects that she had discovered some of her secret letters to Rose while going through Rose's stuff.
  • She packs up the photo from the beach and writes a letter to Jim. She decides to drop it off at his house on the way out so he won't see it until she's long gone.
  • As she rides the train away, she imagines her mom telling Jim that "'she has gone back to Brooklyn'" (4.372).