Study Guide

Brooklyn: A Novel Coming of Age

By Colm Tóibín

Coming of Age

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?

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. Is there a specific moment that marks Eilis' transition into adulthood? If so, why is this moment important?
  2. Does Rose help or hinder Eilis' coming of age?
  3. How does the change in culture affect Eilis' coming of age experience?
  4. Is Eilis a mature adult by the end of the novel? Why or why not?

Chew on This

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.

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