Tom Brennan Analysis

Introduction: flag each composer, type of literary form and briefly what is of interest.
J. C. Burke’s The Story of Tom Brennan (hereafter TSoTB) is a scaled down
Bildungsroman, charting a year in mid-teen Tom’s life after moving to Coghill. However this
relocation is fraught with shame and regret, as he and his family are victims of a
circumstance beyond their control. Overall Burke depicts a transitional journey fraught with
challenge, yet its uplifting conclusions suggest that new experiences alter attitudes and
beliefs but perseverance is essential.
Step 1: early in core text establish Tom is not coping (look at arrival in Coghill, especially at
Early in TSoTB the reason for the Brennan’s arrival at Coghill on Australia Day from Mumbilli
is explained by Tom, the narrator “[so] they would wake and find us gone…not to remind
them of their pain”, thus signifying that his family is in voluntary exile to encourage healing
and closure in its original community. However in Burke’s view a “tree-change” experience
cannot easily negate the past. Hence the latter is always close to the surface in Tom’s early
characterisation, hovering spectrally on the fringe of his consciousness but as a prevailing
mood of depression. Initially this nihilistic sentiment appears an indelible blight with little
chance of a cure, and is carefully underscored by nostalgic flashback, “Our cricket game
would become the sledging, raucous match that made everybody love Australia Day at the
Brennan’s”. This memory is antithetical to Tom’s present situation at Gran’s home in “dark,
stuffy dining room”. His despair is further conveyed tonally by short truncated sentences “But
we weren’t home. We were here…This was now our reality”. These outbursts cumulatively
suggest he is on the verge of breaking down. There is also a palpable sense of entrapment
conveyed in the repetition of first-person plural and final collective pronoun, suggesting that
the Brennan’s move is a...