Individual And Society
Summer Reading Response
While reading Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, I realized that there was no true, stereotypical
antagonist in the selection (like a Mr. Rochester or Napoleon the Pig type). While reading, I kept
my eyes out for this antagonist character and it was only revealed in the final pages of the book.
Miss Kelly, the sharp-tongued yet shrewd businesswoman that has an uncanny connection to
Eilis’s life in Brooklyn is the villain. It is no secret that Miss Kelly is a bit of an omnipotent,
classist, gossip who is rude to her customers because of an apparent monopoly of sorts, but she
was proved to be more maniacal towards the conclusion, with her actions pressuring Eilis into
not only confessing her secret marriage to her mother, but also hastening Eilis’s return back to
Brooklyn, Tony, and the shop floor.
Miss Kelly’s initial behavior just seemed like one pace beyond a power-hungry superior.
Immediately after hiring Eilis, she began making comments about her family’s social standing
(which is a bone of contention for Eilis’s mother). This occurs on page five, “Oh, the whole
town, anyone who is anyone, comes into the shop and I hear everything.’… Eilis wondered if
this was a reference to her mother’s consistent dealing in another grocery shop but she was not
sure.” Miss Kelly is frequently rude to customers that are less wealthy than others, and Eilis
recognized this before starting her career with Miss Kelly. However, I did not identify her as an
antagonizing figure because there seemed to be no unique hat...