‘The Story of Tom Brennan’
‘In a couple of hours they would wake up and find us gone, far away, so as not to remind them of their pain and what our family now meant to this town’ (p. 2)
The novel begins with a journey, both physical and emotional; the Brennans are physically moving houses and towns, but also moving into new, unfamiliar territory. The leaving of ‘home’ is synonymous with the leaving of what id known, familiar and comfortable, in a literal and metaphorical sense.
‘I hadn’t decided if I was playing rugby this year. In fact, I hadn’t decided if I was playing ever again. I didn’t know if I could without my brother.
Things just weren’t that simple anymore.’ (p. 10)
Rugby makes up much of Tom’s own self-identity – he’s reluctance and indecision to play again signifies the uncertain period he’s going through. Tom is forced to re-define himself without his brother for guidance, of whom he lived in the shadow of for his entire life. He’s now confronted with the task of negotiating the adult world, on his own. Without his brother, and without Mumbilli, Tom feels he can’t continue with rugby, meaning he’s lost much of his identity.
‘Tell someone who cares, Tom.’ (Kylie, p. 15)
Kylie and Tom’s relationship is breaking down. This quote represents not only Tom and Kylie’s relationship being in turmoil, but also the entire families. The loss of Daniel, and comfort of their hometown, stresses the family because of the great loss of identity they’ve encountered.
‘You see Fin was changing, growing and somehow that altered
things between Daniel and him.’ (p. 33)
Fin is physically changing, growing into an adult, and this is affecting his relationship with people, particularly Daniel. This quote reinforces the fact that growth and development is inevitable, although comes with pressure and external influences.
‘His legs had wasted to long pieces of bone wrapped in shiny skin.’ (p. 61)
Fin is a constant reminder of childhood, of the night the accident and everything difficult that’s happened since. Seeing Fin so withered and frail is confrontational for Tom, and is often a source of fear and barrier for emotional growth for him. Chapter 5
‘I’m going to get you, you dobber.’ (Daniel, p. 70)
A flashback to when Tom and Daniel were very young helps to contrast between then and now; we can see the innocence and naivety of childhood in this scene, and this helps to understand the leg of the journey that’s already undergone. Tom is now in his teenage years, and grown physically, mentally and emotionally, and continues to do so. This is stresses that the journey of ‘into the world’ is a long, tedious one, and also inevitable.
‘Don’t start preaching to me, Tom!’ She jumped off the bed. ‘Just because you’re so paranoid. People are going to find out sooner or later.’ Our foreheads were
almost locked together. ‘Don’t you get that!’ She pulled away and walked to
the bedroom door. ‘Get out,’ she spat ‘I don’t want you in here
You’re such a downer, and I don’t need it!’ (Kylie, pp. 87–88)
Continued fracturing of Tom and Kylie’s relationship again represent the entire family, this time highlighting each person’s different method in coping with the uncertain times. This turmoil has forced passing judgements onto each other, and further pushes them into worlds of greater responsibility, complexity and individualism. Although difficult, this is essential for growth into the wider world for Tom, as it forces him to break from his pre-established self image in the shadows of his brother and develop individuality.
‘Sunday the 28th of August marked the first day of my new life.’ (p. 101)
28th of August was the day after the accident; the day Mumbilli discovered the tragedy, and the day that everything changed for...
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