Analysis on Eilis's immigration experience and impact on her character development in the novel Brooklyn by Toibin Colbin

Choose one of the following essay questions:

  1. Brooklyn is an immigration narrative that depicts a young woman’s move from the old country
    (Ireland) to the new (United States). While Eilis Lacey seems to have achieved the American
    Dream (marriage, a home, relative affluence) by the end of the novel, it might also be argued that
    Eilis Lacey instead ends up in exile, remaining ever aware that she is not truly at home. Write an
    essay that examines the representation of immigration, the American Dream, and exile in
    Brooklyn.
  2. Brooklyn chronicles the coming-of-age of its protagonist, Eilis Lacey, an ordinary young Irish
    woman. For Eilis, immigrating to the United States is the defining experience of her life. But
    how and why does Eilis change over the course of the novel? Does she change? Write an essay
    that examines how the foundational experiences of Eilis’s coming-of-age—immigrating to the
    U.S., living independently, falling in love—shape Eilis’s identity and character.
  3. Brooklyn chronicles the immigrant experience in North America, and specifically in the
    bustling, diverse city of Brooklyn, New York. The urban experience plays an important role in
    the novel, as Eilis Lacey must adjust to living in a multicultural, cosmopolitan city instead of a
    small, homogenous Irish town. Write an essay that examines the role of the city of Brooklyn in
    Brooklyn. How does Colm Tóibín depict the relationships between and divisions among
    European immigrants from different countries, as well as those between white and Black
    Americans?
    Assignment Guidelines:
    • Ground your essay in a thesis statement that makes a clear and nuanced claim about the
    text. A thesis statement should be analytical and not a statement of general fact or plot
    summary. Your thesis should take an original stand on the chosen essay question.
    • Demonstrate your awareness of both what the novel is saying and how it’s saying it.
    • Integrate Eve Walsh Stoddard’s article into your essay at least once. This might mean
    quoting and using one of her definitions (ex. of Irish identity; diaspora; cosmopolitanism;
    etc.) to support your argument, or responding to Stoddard’s interpretation of Brooklyn in
    your own essay (ex. “As Stoddard notes, Eilis never achieves an ‘emancipated,
    cosmopolitan consciousness…’”). Remember that you do not need to fully agree with
    2
    Stoddard (ex. “While Stoddard argues that Eilis never achieves an ‘emancipated,
    cosmopolitan consciousness,’ Eilis does in fact show a global consciousness when
    she…”).
    • Use MLA bibliographic format and provide a citation every single time you quote or
    paraphrase an outside source, whether it be Brooklyn, the Stoddard essay, or another
    source entirely, including anything on the Internet.
    Required Format 112-point Times New Roman
    1 double-spaced (not 1.5)
    1 1-inch margins (all sides)
    1 Microsoft Word or Google Doc
    1 page numbers (top right)
    1 title on main page (no title page)
    1 MLA style in-text citations
    1 MLA style list of Works Cited

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