The Story of Tom Brennan

by

J. C. Burke

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The Story of Tom Brennan: Chapter Fifteen Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At the end of camp, Dad and Tom wave the rest of the boys off on the bus and then head for Westleigh. Tom gets to see Daniel by himself the next morning while Mum and Dad meet with Daniel's social worker. Daniel doesn’t look well; Tom thinks that for the first time, he truly looks like a prisoner. Daniel's eyes light up when he sees Tom, however, and he immediately asks about footy camp. Tom thinks about Dad's pep talk and explains that the Bennie's boys enjoy playing. Daniel is confused; he insists the game is all about winning.
The fact that Daniel seems unable or unwilling to come around to Dad and Tom's new way of looking at rugby provides some insight into why he behaved the way he did on the night of the accident: he truly doesn't understand the value of friendship and teamwork. This also suggests that he'll struggle to learn this in jail.
Themes
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Related Quotes
Daniel asks about Harvey, and Tom explains that Harvey makes the team feel like they're better than they actually are, as he believes that teamwork is a life skill. Daniel scoffs, but Tom wonders if Harvey might be correct. Tom hesitantly says that St. John's was all about winning and they put so much pressure on themselves to win, and he suggests they might've suffered for it. Daniel is derisive, but Tom insists that the best thing about playing at St. John's was playing with Daniel. He privately thinks that at the end, it was the worst too, as he had to carry Daniel's weight when Daniel stopped trying.
When Tom recognizes that the best and the worst part of playing at St. John's was the relationship he shared with Daniel, it suggests that he's leaving behind "the legend of the Brennan brothers" and is now ready to move forward on his own, as an individual, without Daniel's ghost hanging over him. This also implies that Tom will now be able to integrate into his new team far better with these realizations.
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Related Quotes
Daniel sighs that things are different because he messed things up and refuses to let Tom say otherwise. Daniel says seriously that he has his mentor, Jerry, and he needs to keep it together for Theo's sake, as he's not doing well. He lists all the people he's hurt and says that the thought of Fin's birthday set him off. He can't stand the thought of Fin in a wheelchair, but he declares that he'll see everyone again and make it through this. Tom tries to smile.
Daniel's seriousness when he talks about Theo illustrates the power of giving back: now that Daniel feels a responsibility toward someone else, he's more willing to help himself. With this, the novel shows that Daniel is actually learning some of the same lessons that Tom is; he's just not yet able to apply them to other parts of his life.
Themes
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When Mum, Dad, and Tom get in the car, it's already getting dark. They stop for dinner and when they get back on the road, Mum invites Tom to sit in the backseat with her. Mum puts her arm around Tom and he lays his head on her shoulder. He thinks she finally smells right again as she apologizes and promises that things will keep getting better.
This moment is another one that signals that the Brennan family is healing at last, as Mum is now starting to act like a parent again. This means that going forward, Tom will have even more people to truly care about him and help push him towards maturity.
Themes
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When Tom and Brendan run up the ascent a few days later, Brendan suggests they go away for Christmas to climb to the Mount Everest base camp. Before Tom knows it, they've made it to the top. On the way down, Brendan insists he's serious and even offers to give Tom a loan in exchange for work in the sheds. Gran is making breakfast when Tom gets back to the house and sends Tom immediately to the shower. Kylie is in the bathroom, whining about hating her hair. Tom insists it'd be fine if she stopped putting goop in it and kicks her out of the bathroom. He notices that he's getting fitter and flashes on how Daniel used to make him look at his muscly arms every morning. Now, Daniel's arms are thin and wasted.
Brendan's suggestion gives Tom a tangible goal to work towards as a team, which makes the running and the training more like something akin to rugby. As. Tom is able to form a closer relationship with his family members, and he's also starting to notice more ways that Daniel wasn't always a great person. The fact that Tom is passing Daniel in things like strength suggests that Tom is coming of age.
Themes
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Tom is excited about the lunchtime match with St. Xavier's, Bennie's brother school. Bennie's has lost the last two years, so the guys are itching to win. As the St. Xavier's buses arrive, the Bennie's team watches Xavier's girls in jerseys arrive to watch. Twenty minutes later, the Bennie's boys are thrilled to see that some of the Bennie's girls came too. They play superbly and win 22-5. Brad and Tonelli lift Tom onto their shoulders and Tom grins the entire way back to school.
This win is more of a symbolic one for Tom, as it's the first game after footy camp and after Tom's realization that teamwork is important. When the other guys celebrate him after their win, it impresses upon Tom just how important it is to have close relationships with teammates—at the very least, it means more opportunities to feel like a hero.
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At dinner with Brendan, Jonny, and Chrissy later, Chrissy wishes she'd been there to watch the match. Brendan asks Chrissy if she's still thinking of studying nursing, and she explains she is—she's thinking about going to the nursing college at the university where Tom's footy camp was. Brendan points this out, which annoys Tom, and he turns the conversation back to safer topics. Brendan tells Chrissy and Jonny that he and Tom are going to climb Mount Everest for Christmas, and Chrissy gives Jonny a hard time about his fear of flying. She teases Jonny and Brendan about staying in Coghill like an old married couple. Tom finds himself agreeing to go to Nepal.
When Tom agrees to go to Nepal with Brendan, it shows him stepping outside of his comfort zone to try something new—and most importantly, to connect with a member of his family who has become newly important to Tom. This is one of the ways that the novel shows how Tom is coming into himself as an individual and discovering what kind of person he is when he's not living constantly in Daniel's shadow.
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Later, Tom reflects that he's totally in love with Chrissy. He hears Kylie still awake and knocks on her door. He pushes it open and finds Kylie sitting in front of her mirror with scissors, handfuls of hair in the garbage can. She cries that she feels awful.
Kylie's intense emotional state implies that while Tom is moving forward, she's still struggling intensely with the trauma she suffered as a result of the accident.
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