Study Guide

Brooklyn: A Novel Respect and Reputation

By Colm Tóibín

Respect and Reputation

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.

Questions About Respect and Reputation

  1. How is Eilis' concern about her reputation related to traditional Irish Catholic culture?
  2. By the end of the novel, is Eilis unconcerned with her reputation? Explain.
  3. Compare and contrast Miss Fortini and Miss Kelly.
  4. Does living in America make Eilis more concerned about her reputation? Why or why not?

Chew on This

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.

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