The Story of Tom Brennan

by

J. C. Burke

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The Story of Tom Brennan: Chapter Eight Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the day of rugby tryouts, Brendan drives Tom and Kylie to school. He teases Kylie as she puts black eyeliner on and then turns to Tom and suggests that he join him on morning runs. Tom is noncommittal, especially when Brendan says he runs up "the ascent." Tom explains that this is a steep mountain about a kilometer away from Gran's place. They used to go up in the truck for picnics as kids, and the truck would inevitably die before reaching the top. Daniel, who hated hills, would whine the entire way. This is also why the hill in Mumbilli was known as "Daniel's Whine"; Daniel would refuse to walk up after school and instead, Mum would pick him up at the bottom.
Once again, Tom is unable to separate his past from a possible future. He does this in part because he is still extremely loyal to Daniel and the close relationship they shared—agreeing to run with Brendan would signal that Tom is willing to form his own opinion about hills, not just rely on Daniel's opinions.
Themes
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Identity and Independence Theme Icon
On the way home from tryouts, Dad tries to talk positively and enthusiastically about the players. Tom believes Dad is faking it; the players are awful. He thinks that in Coghill, rugby will fill the time but do nothing else for him. Dad says that Rory, who plays five-eight, will be a great partner for Tom (their positions rely on each other). Tom says that he'd like to see Daniel this weekend, and Dad agrees.
It's worth remembering that while rugby is a team sport, Tom's position is one that links two halves of the team together and works very closely with Rory's position. This suggests that the team will suffer until Tom can come around and effectively do his job of being a true team player.
Themes
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Tom is exhausted. Gran bustles around the kitchen as Tom rubs his calves, thinking he really is unfit. Gran calls for dinner and nobody comes. She goes down the hall to investigate and returns, saying that Dad will eat later with Mum and that Kylie is out with Brianna. She serves up soggy meatloaf and Tom stirs it around, thinking that Kylie is certainly up to something. Gran sits down and lets out a little cough. Tom decides that stirring his meatloaf was rude, but reasons that at least he's at the table. As he lifts the fork, Gran asks if he forgot something. Tom mumbles an apology and, in a whisper, Gran asks if he'd say grace.
As noncommittal as Tom seems about religion as a whole, it's worth keeping in mind that Gran's insistence on saying grace is one way for her to attempt to create a routine and dependability in Tom's life, something that he hasn’t had for the last few months. This shows another aspect of Gran's attempts to care for her family and help them towards healing, while also showing that Tom simply isn't ready to accept the help yet.
Themes
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Debt and Redemption Theme Icon