The Story of Tom Brennan

1 January 2017

The experience of moving into the world can challenge individuals’ beliefs and attitudes” Related text and one other” Core text + Related text Individuals’ beliefs and attitudes are the product of the world they live in, and consequently these beliefs and attitudes are challenged when one moves into a new or different world. Both The Story Of Tom Brennan (2005) by J. C. Burke and The Door (When) by Miroslav Holub explore this notion of change through the experiences encountered when moving into different worlds.

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The Story Of Tom Brennan explores the journey, growth and self discovery of the protagonist, Tom, following his brother’s drunken car crash. Similarly, The Door demonstrates the benefits associated with exploring new worlds, and the growth that occurs as a result of that exploration. Nevertheless, despite their difference in medium and time of production, both texts demonstrate a change in an individuals beliefs and attitudes is product on moving into new and different worlds.

As a contemporary piece, the Story of Tom Brennan follows the psychological growth of its protagonist that is demanded in the aftermath of an alcohol related car accident, as he discovers himself and his place in his new world. This growth is cleverly explored through composers ability to intertwine the past and present in flashbacks. Flashbacks operate throughout the piece to contrast Tom’s old world with his new world and his struggles to move into his new setting of Coghill.

It is these flashbacks that lead to his introspection and realisation that he was known as “Daniel’s brother” rather than “Tom Brennan”. This realisation led him on a journey of self discovery, in which he questioned his previous beliefs and attitudes that placed him in that position in the first place. Comparatively, Holub employs a commanding tone to order the audience to “Go and open the door”. This is immediately followed by an optimistic tone to list the possible outcomes of this adventure; “Maybe outside there’s a tree, or a wood”..

This change in tone creates intrigue and curiosity within the audience to leave behind their sheltered lives and venture into this new world. In addition, The imaginary door acts as a dual metaphor in that it represents a boundary that restricts us, yet also a gateway of opportunity that drives us for growth and change. Hardships can cause an individual move from one world to another, and challenge previously held opinions.

One key symbol that supports this notion is the metaphor of the hill, which symbolises Tom’s struggles and analogises his entry into the world. Ascension hill”, which according to his Gran “led all the way to heaven” (pg112) is portrayed as an obstacle for growth and development. Initially, Tom is unable to climb the hill, but after arduous training, he successfully conquers it. This is a pivotal moment in the novel, and marks his initial entry into the world. Through acceptance, Tom was able to move from a child embittered by distress, to a man who is able to obtain the benefits from life experiences.

From this move into the adult world, Tom realises that his new world can provide more opportunity for growth than his former. The notion that delving into life’s opportunities can be advantageous is reflected in Holub’s statement “If there’s a fog it will clear”. The fog is a metaphor for struggles in life and connotes that the audience should disregard their current fears, as they are only a temporary barrier between the them and their goals in life.

Holub encourages the audience to focus on the long term growth that can occur from the experience, rather than the short term hardship. The notion that the movement from one world to another challenges the way an individual’s attitudes and beliefs can also be explored through an analysis of the water motif. This motif and imagery is particularly effective after the profound experience of making love to Chrissy, signifying Tom’s successful move into the new world. Universally, water symbolises purification and cleansing.

Within the novel, the water symbolises the metaphorical boundary between Tom’s fixation with his old world, and the spiritual cleansing that enables his movement into the new one. It defines his growth and underpins his recognition of the old, and his acceptance of the new allowing him to accept himself for who he really is. Correspondingly, Holub includes imagery such as, “a garden, or a magic city” to imply a sense of freedom and the growth that can come from such experiences

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