Reading Brooklyn Part Three: "It changed everything Eilis thought about her time in Brooklyn."
Say, I'll bet it did! This is the end, friends.
** AND THIS IS WHERE ALL THE SPOILERS COME, BY THE WAY **
Rose. Rose, Rose, Rose.
Eilis looked at the pile of letters Rose had sent her, wondering if between sending one of these and sending the next Rose had learned that she was sick. Or is she had known before Eilis had left. It changed everything Eilis thought about her time in Brooklyn, it made everything that had happened to her seem small. She looked at Rose's handwriting, its clarity and evenness, its sense of supreme self-possession and self-confidence, and she wondered whether, while writing some of these words, Rose had looked up and sighed and then, though sheer strength of will, steeled herself and carried on writing, not faltering for a single moment from her decision to let no one share her knowledge except the doctor who had told her.
Rose is the engine that turns the machine, every step of the way. Did she know all along? I think she did; I think she sent Eilis away to try to save her because she knew what was coming, that Eilis would never be strong enough to save herself. Then what happens: Eilis comes home, spends one day doing Rose's job at Davis's and is perfectly satisfied! She has no desire at all to save herself, nor does she imagine that she needs saving. She's willing to melt into whatever environment currently contains her and get on with things. Lack of peripheral vision, I guess. Limited scope. (Though she's limited by gender, geography, circumstance, history, society, personality, etc. It's a tangle of limits.)
You all can go on & on about Tony. I thought he was a drip. Though is he set up specifically to be a drip? He's like a golden retriever. I'm not wild about Jim Farrell, either, who is more like a leg-humping Doberman, but I sure called that one! For a while there in Parts Two and Three I feared you might think I was an idiot. I had trouble warming up to both because they felt decided to me; neither was a conscious choice that she made but a direction that had been arranged for her before she even noticed. But the whole book is like that. Does she ever choose freely? Does she even have the choice to choose freely? Does she even seem to care?
It occurred to her, as she walked down the aisle with Jim and her mother and joined the well-wishers outside the church, where the weather had brightened, that she was sure that she did not love Tony now. He seemed part of a dream from which she had woken with considerable force some time before, and in this waking time his presence, once so solid, lacked any substance or form; it was merely a shadow at the edge of every moment of the day and night.
Now what happens when she gets off that boat?