The Story of Tom Brennan is a 2005 Australianyoung adult novel written by J. C. Burke. It was named as book of the year for older readers by the Children's Book Council of Australia. The story follows Tom Brennan, a 17-year-old boy known for his football skills. An accident involving his brother forces the family to move towns, and the novel shows the various Brennan family members changing after the accident and how it affected them.
The story involves issues relevant to teenagers such as alcohol, relationships and fitting in. This novel is often studied in Australian high schools as it is accessible to most readers.
For Tom Brennan, life is about rugby, mates and family—until a night of celebration changes his life forever. Tom's worlds explodes as his brother Daniel is sent to jail and the Brennans are forced to leave the small town Tom's lived in his whole life. Tom is a survivor, but needs a ticket out of the past just as much as Daniel.
The novel is based around the aftermath of the incident that leads to the Brennan family leaving the town of Mumbilli and is written from Tom's perspective. Beginning in the present, Tom is at his grandmother’s house and hating every minute of his new life, we soon begin to see glimpses of the events in Tom's recent past: the "sudden death" football party where all the trouble begins, and the terrible, tragic events of that night and days that follow. The novel involves teenage issues such as alcohol, drink driving, relationships, and moving on after your world turns upside down.
Journeys into new worlds are often characterise by both problems and opportunities. Transitioning into a new world is a complex process which is defined by possibilities and difficulties. The novel “The story of Tom Brennan” by J.C Burke explores the transitional process into a new world as a catalyst for a beneficial change and the emotional barriers and resistance to change the protagonist Tom Brennan experiences. Comparably the
film “Hurricane”, by Jewish Norman portrays the negative process of transitioning into a new paradigm. Furthermore the author Simon Armitage’s poem “Kid” exemplifies the beneficial aspects of transitioning into a new world as it may develop one’s skill set providing them with confidence and empowerment. If one is forced by the actions of others to move into a new world, conflict or resentment may occur. J.C Burke portrays this theme of resistance to change, which is mainly highlighted through the character Tom Brennan throughout chapters one and two.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The novel immediately illustrates Tom’s pessimistic nature through the internal monologue and sarcastic and sacrilegious remark, “announced my grandmother, a self appointed messenger of God”. It emphasizes the bitterness and resentment he has for the whole situation, the move from Mumbilli to Coghill to live with his grandmother angers him as he has been displaced from a place he loves. Also Tom uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism as he tries to deal with changes to his worldview. This resistance to change is further emphasized through the juxtaposition of, “I didn’t want to open my eyes and see…I wanted to be back home having a barbie. Having our normal Australia day, Our Brennan Australia Day, the way we always did”, this contrast of the past and present emphasizes Tom’s sense of loss and vulnerability and fear of transitioning into the new world.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Burke uses a biblical allusion “God knows, Father Vincent, I pray to Saint Jude every day to make her situation more, more-tolerable”, as Saint Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, the allusion reflects the sense of alienation, ostracism and depression confronting the Brennan’s mainly Tom. Furthermore, the combination of the metaphor and colour symbolism, “I named it the cave because it’s so dark and brown” creates a depressing mood reflecting Tom’s anger and bitterness at what he feels to be the oppressive world of his grandmother’s house. However the ‘cave’ provides refuge for Tom who finds comfort in isolation. Hurricane</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Comparably to the Story of Tom Brennan, the protagonist, unable to adapt to his new paradigm due to the emotional barriers he encounters. Norman Jewison’s through the film Hurricane demonstrates that facing ones inner fear allows one to overcome emotional barriers. The protagonist ‘Hurricane Carter’ is an infamous African American boxer who faces racial prejudice and is imprisoned due to false allegations of homicide. The close up shot of his blood teary eyes conveys an inner thirst for vengeance which leads him to face psychological barriers such as schizoprehenia and fear which essentially creates his hatred and restricts his transition and adaption into the new world.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Jewison skilfully uses a high angle shot which belittles him within his dark prison cell and the panorama shot of the prison evokes his immense suffering and loss of self identity, effectively portraying the difficulties faced when entering a new world. Additionally the diegetic crescendo of the instruments used creates a chaotic atmosphere and makes the audience feel a sense of urgency, which effectively accentuates the broken man as a result of this transition and unfamiliarity with the new world. Furthermore, ‘Hurricane Carter’s’ unwillingness to adapt to the new world is illustrated through his rejection of companionship. Tom Brennan</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Transitions into new worlds can allow one to develop new strengths and possibilities. J.C Burke illustrates this idea through showing Tom’s transition from being hesitant and resistant to accepting the transition and the new strengths and possibilities he develops through entering a new world. The dialogue and repetition of silences between Tom and Kylie suggests that the silent reflection of Tom’s acceptance into the world and accentuates his acceptance despite the difficult past, consequently he has gained a sense of empowerment and ability to achieve more in life. Moreover, Burkes use of the simile “Like layers of skin falling onto the track, leaving an empty shell” demonstrates Tom is leaving behind the past in order to enter the new world, this shows he is overcome with a new sense of strength.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The simile further emphasizes layers of skin falling onto the tracks, leaving an empty shell which is symbolic of leaving behind things in his life which is of no importance. Moreover, the recurring motif of water is evident through the line, “I pushed off hard, springing high out of the water. For once, I felt free and light”. The recurring imagery of water reflects Tom’s healing process as he overcomes the emotional scars allowing him to adapt to the new world and feel empowered with new strengths and possibilities. Furthermore the emotive language, “Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves and that was the main thing”, suggests that encountering new experiences in his new world has provided him with drive. Burke exemplifies his willingness to embrace and accept this new world Tom has transitioned into and has allowed him to develop new strengths and possibilities.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Kid<br /> The idea of entering new worlds develops ones skills set and leads an individual to being more experienced and confident is explored throughout the poem, “kid”. The poem uses an extended metaphor of the Batman/Robin relationship figuratively suggests his new confidence and the beginning of his transition. The metaphor symbolizes the changing nature of Batman and Robin and Robins transition into a new world away from his father Batman which represents the coming of new experiences and his sense of confidence. The simile ‘he was like a father to me’ and the past tense of ‘was’ conveys the beneficial separation from his father and transition into a new realm has provided him with a new skill set and has allowed him to gain more confidence, this suggests that although transition into a new world may be complex it provides an individual with opportunities.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Furthermore the confidence gain as a result of the transition into a new world is accentuated through the effective use of the visceral imagery and confident tone of “Batman, it makes a marvellous picture:you without a shadow, stewing over”. The line “Without a shadow, stewing over” allows the audience to visualise Robin free of authority and experiencing new aspects of life. Also it is evident that he has gained a new confidence due to the newly developed skill set as a result of the beneficial transition. The contrast of the first line, “Batman big shot” and the last line, “Now I’m the real wonder boy” reflects the journey throughout the poem of Robin being separated from Batman and transitioning into a new world. It further accentuates his confidence as he has found himself and developed a new skill set, his separation from batman has led him to new experiences while transitioning to a new world, which may be positive or negative experiences.</p>