No matter your background, there's one thing everyone shares in common—love (and the inevitable annoyance) for their family. Although Eilis Lacey's family isn't always the healthiest bunch around, they clearly love each other, which makes it a huge shock when Eilis decides to moves across the Atlantic Ocean to Brooklyn, New York.
In Brooklyn, Eilis adapts and thrives… but after a sudden family tragedy forces her to return home and take care of her mother, she's forced to look at her family in a different way than ever before. Are they her future, or only her past?
The differences between Eilis and Tony's families are related to the differences between Italian and Irish culture.
Eilis finds herself so drawn to Frank because he represents a potential future child with Tony.
If you ever need to grow up fast, then just follow Eilis' example—cross the sea in a cruddy ocean liner, meet a hunky Italian-American, and then return home for a confusing visit to Ireland following your sister's death. Easy, right?
While you might not be able to follow Eilis' example to a "t," we're more than confident that her struggles in Brooklyn—and boy are there struggles—will teach you quite a bit about what it means to grow up, to adapt to new places, and to persevere through hardships. Not a bad day at the office, huh?
Rose aids Eilis' coming of age experience, as she provides her with all of the tools she'll need to become a woman.
Rose hinders Eilis' coming of age experience, as she shelters her from realities that would force her to grow up otherwise.
Sorry, NY Times trend piece followers: there are no thick glasses or artisanal mayonnaise shops here. There's none of the Brooklyn we know and love today: no Das Racist, no Tribe Called Quest and no (gasp) Jay-Z. You don't even see a single slice of pizza, for Pete's (or Papa John's) sake.
In fact, Brooklyn gives us very little of what we've come to identify as BKLYN-centric… besides a trip to Coney Island. Regardless, the brief glimpse we get into this ever-changing borough—and particularly, its strong Irish community—provides us with insight into BK that still holds value today.
Tony's wide-eyed sincerity and Jim's aloofness reflect the cultural differences between Ireland and Brooklyn.
Eilis is changed by living in Brooklyn because she encounters a diverse array of people that she would have never encountered otherwise.
Before Instagram, before Facebook, and even before everyone had Polaroids, all you had to remember your loved ones by were, well, memories. Eilis Lacey knows this well. After leaving her small town in Ireland for the hustle-and-bustle of big city Brooklyn, Eilis struggles with feelings of homesickness whenever she dwells too long on her memories. So how does she cope? It's actually pretty simple: making new memories. As it happens, however, that's a lot easier said than done, and Eilis' struggles in Brooklyn teach us a great deal about the nature of memory.
Eilis has a hard time holding on to her emotions towards something if it's not in her immediate present, which is proven both when she first comes to Brooklyn and when she returns to Ireland.
Eilis is less interested in the letters from her family because of their content than the fact that they make her think about her memories.
Eilis Lacey needs to stop caring about her reputation so much. She constantly has to deal with snobs like Miss Kelly, who treats her like low-class dirt, and Miss McAdams, who's always trying to knock her down a peg or two.
Still, this is a pretty tough request to make of a relatively conservative Irish lass—it goes against her very nature. As Eilis grows and matures into a sharp, confident young woman, however, she starts to stick up for herself and care less what others think of her. They don't call Brooklyn a coming-of-age novel for nothing.
While Miss Kelly makes Eilis needlessly concerned about her reputation, her American boss Miss Fortini teaches her how to treat all people equally.
Although Eilis makes a great deal of progress, the fact that she won't come completely clean about her marriage shows that she's still concerned about her reputation.
Eilis Lacey has more dreams than she knows what to do with. She dreams of becoming a classy, glamorous woman, like her big sister Rose. She dreams of having a husband who loves her and treats her like a princess. And she dreams of being an accountant, which, as far as dreams go, is actually pretty low-stakes (and financially responsible).
Regardless, Eilis quickly realizes that simply having dreams is a lot easier than making them come true, her forward momentum in Brooklyn halted by what we can only diagnose as a near-fatal case of FOMO.
Eilis is hesitant to make a commitment to Tony because she doesn't like the feeling of having her future potential limited.
Eilis is hesitant to make a commitment to Tony because she has her own ambitions, such as her desire to become an accountant.
What a bait-and-switch. First, we get lulled into a false sense of security after witnessing the adorable romance between Eilis and her bae Tony. Things seem great. Then, suddenly—BANG—this seemingly perfect relationship bites the bust, ruined by the intrusion of Jim "Homewreckin'" Farrell (seriously, guys, our inner-shipper is dying).
But when we poke a little deeper into Brooklyn's seemingly simply love story, we realize that it's a shockingly complex portrait of a young woman with a lot of conflicting emotions and dreams for the future.
The fact that Eilis would so quickly spark a romance with Jim Farrell shows that she doesn't love Tony, and might never have loved him in the first place.
Although Eilis' romance with Jim was real, that doesn't mean that she doesn't love Tony.
It's easy to get homesick when you're an ocean away from everyone and everything you've ever known and loved. After moving to Brooklyn, New York, young Eilis Lacey feels like a tiny, Irish fish in a gigantic, American sea. In other words, she misses her home.
As she struggles with these feelings of homesickness, she also begins to adapt to life in America, meeting a new boy-toy and moving up in the rank in her job. Now Brooklyn feels like home. But when a family tragedy forces her to return to Ireland's craggy shores, however, Eilis is forced to choose which place is her home once and for all.
Eilis' decision to return to Brooklyn, even though it's foisted upon her, shows that she sees Brooklyn as her home, and Ireland as her past.
Eilis doesn't truly feel comfortable in Brooklyn until she makes her room into a homey space.