Study Guide

Brooklyn: A Novel Visions of Brooklyn

By Colm Tóibín

Visions of Brooklyn

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.

Questions About Visions of Brooklyn

  1. How does living in Brooklyn change Eilis? Does it change her for the better?
  2. In what ways do Tony and Jim embody the cultural differences between Ireland and America?
  3. Does the Irish community differ from the Irish-American community in Brooklyn? Explain. What does Eilis learn about American culture by working at Bartocci's?

Chew on This

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.