“Eilis gives up her sense of belonging upon moving to Brooklyn.” Do you agree?
In Colm Toibin’s ‘Brooklyn’, the protagonist Eilis Lacey loses her perception of being accepted and comfortable in her migration from Ireland to America. Toibin thrusts Eilis into a world of emotional anxiety and turmoil, made worse by her disconnection with her family. Essentially, her immigrant experience in Brooklyn is characterised by a sense of loss and nostalgia as she constantly looks to the past. Plagued by homesickness and the “weight of loss”, Eilis struggles to adapt. Father Flood’s comment, “you’re homesick, that’s all” represents the expectation that sadness emerges from migration and that, eventually, familiarity will triumph over sadness.
Toibin uses setting to reinforce a strong sense of absence and the emotional rift that torments Eilis in Brooklyn. Her room is unhomely and makeshift, and in this death-like place referred to as a “tomb” Eilis feels like a “ghost”, which is a reminder of the security and warmth of a home that she may never recover. The room reflects her insubstantial presence, as she felt like a “nobody” due to her lack of familiar connections - “Nothing here was part of her”. Whenever Eilis thinks of Enniscorthy and her home, it is a “life she had lost and would never have again”. By comparison her new home and her new life are inconsequential and unsubstantial. “Now all that seemed like nothing compared to the picture she had of home, of her own room, the house” She has an overriding sense of sadness as she also recalls her father’s death, which was a representation of loss.
Toibin frequently depicts Eilis reading or writing letters as representation of the emotional rift. The letters from her family do not reveal anything personal as if they are shielding Eilis from loss, because Eilis feels she must act okay like Jack did. She cannot imagine telling her mother about her terrible bouts of seasickness on the ship owing to the “worst storm in...