The Story of Tom Brennan

by

J. C. Burke

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The Story of Tom Brennan: Chapter Seven Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Saturday, Tom has the house to himself. He can't find anything that holds his interest and he spends most of the day picking up and putting down the phone. Finally, Tom makes himself dial Matt's number. Matt's mum picks up and her voice makes Tom want to cry. She greets him happily, gives him a quick rundown of what's going on in her life, and then hands the phone to Matt.
The fact that Matt's mum's voice makes Tom cry indicates again that one of things that Tom truly misses is his mother. This again illustrates how Daniel's actions damaged all of the Brennan family and others have to make sacrifices because of what he did.
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Matt asks if Tom has read his emails, and Tom pretends that he does. Tom turns the conversation to rugby tryouts. Matt lists who at St. Johns are taking Tom and Daniel's positions, and says that Luke's dad is going to coach. Tom flashes on him sobbing in the courtroom when the judge sentenced Daniel. Dad had cried too. Matt mentions that Mumbilli is holding another fundraiser for Fin, and he says that the paper ran an article last week that said the Brennans moved. At this, Tom lies that Gran is waiting for a call and ends the call. Tom curls into a ball and lets the darkness overtake him.
Again, upon hearing anything about rugby leaves Tom experiencing flashbacks to the accident and the aftermath. This suggests that at this point, both rugby and the accident are, like Daniel, tied up in Tom's conception of himself. It's telling that Tom ends the call after a mention of the Mumbilli paper; this suggests that the paper itself was likely one of the key methods that the town used to harass the Brennans before they moved.
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Tom wakes up hours later to the sound of the screen door. Dad flips on the living room light and explains he brought home steaks, but Tom excuses himself to go to bed. He thinks of how Daniel used to hate just Sunday nights, as it meant the end of the weekend. Now, Tom finds the entire weekend depressing.
On the weekends, Tom has no way to ignore that his family has changed significantly since the accident. This in turn begins to suggest that the weekdays—and by extension, school and friends—will help Tom regain a sense of normalcy.
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Sunday, the 28th of August was the first day of Tom's new life. Brendan arrived and took Mum to the police station. Kylie and Tom sat at home, and Tom could still smell Fin's blood. Matt came over for a while after giving his statement to the police. Tom felt panicky at the thought of having to say what happened, and Matt explained that the police seemed to already know about the fight. Tom asked about Luke and Nicole, and Matt started to cry and said that he saw Luke's dad at the station. Matt cried uncontrollably as he said that Luke's body had to stay until the coroner could finish his report, and Luke's dad said that Daniel should be locked up for good.
Luke's dad's words begin to show how anger, grief, and fear can turn an entire town against Daniel and his family. In turn, this will destroy the Brennan family's friendships with everyone in Mumbilli. This also offers some indication that whatever sentence Daniel is given, it likely won't be enough for Luke and Nicole's families, which suggests that Daniel may not ever be able to find forgiveness or redemption for what he did.
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Daniel was allowed to go home, but he had a curfew. The police advised him to only leave the house to visit them at appointed times and to go to the courthouse on September 13 to enter a plea. Dad had struggled to explain to Kylie that "entering a plea" meant that Daniel would have to say if he's guilty or not. When Tom closed his eyes that night, he could only see Luke, Nicole, and the terror in Fin's eyes. Fin was in critical condition, though Dad didn't tell Tom at the time that the doctors didn't expect Fin to live.
It's worth keeping in mind that the court system as a whole is supposed to offer individuals like Daniel a formal system through which to earn redemption for their crimes, assuming Daniel will take responsibility for what happened. It is, however, a comparatively unemotional system for this, which suggests it might not be a truly effective way to redeem oneself.
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Early on Monday morning, Brendan left to be with Aunty Kath and Fin. Tom and Kylie didn't go to school, and Daniel's solicitor, Dennis Talbot, came to visit for the first time. Late in the afternoon, Mum drove Tom to the station to give his statement. He was terrified and asked Mum what was going to happen. She didn't know. Afterwards, Mum drove to the industrial district and made Tom go over what happened again. She desperately wanted to find a hole in the story that would make Daniel look better, but Tom insisted there wasn't one: Daniel started the fight, he drove, and Fin wasn't drunk or on drugs.
Mum's crushing desire to find a hole in Tom's story shows the extent to which parental love will go to protect a child—even though it's clear that Daniel is in the wrong, she still wants to find some way to protect him. This in turn suggests that Mum is so depressed in the present because she was unsuccessful in doing so. This shows that a failure to parent one's child can have disastrous effects for both parents and children.
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For the next week, the Brennan house was chaotic. Mum was angry with everyone, while Daniel cried and threw up. They only ate because Matt's mother kept bringing over casseroles. Dad and Brendan attended Nicole and Luke's funerals. The day before Daniel's court appearance, Talbot said the only thing they had going for them was the guilty plea. Mum pointed out that he had good character references, but Talbot warned that while the Brennan family was respected, people were grieving and angry.
The casseroles from Matt's mother show the reader, at least, that the Brennans did still have friends who were willing to stand by them and make sure they kept moving forward. Talbot alludes here to the ineffectiveness of the justice system to satisfactorily offer redemption when people are emotional, again implying that Daniel won't find redemption any time soon.
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Talbot told Tom that the guilty plea was good because it showed that Daniel accepted responsibility. This might mean his sentence would be shorter. Mum asked about the judges; Talbot said for the hundredth time that there were two possible judges. One was usually more lenient, while the other, Judge Williams, was known to be difficult. Suddenly, Kylie burst into the kitchen. She panted that everyone in town had been saying bad things, like that Daniel was going down and deserved whatever he got. She said that people were spreading rumors that Daniel tried to beat Claire. Kylie collapsed crying, while Daniel sat still.
This information from Kylie illustrates the very real power of heightened emotion to stir up hate and distrust, even against people who were once respected and good friends of the other Mumbilli residents. This then represents the turning point in which the Brennans are no longer truly at home in their town and must instead begin to consider the need to leave in order to heal.
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The appearance at court took 20 minutes. Daniel pled guilty to one charge of driving dangerously and causing bodily harm and two charges of driving dangerously and causing death. Tom knew that Nicole and Luke's families were there, but he didn't look around. The magistrate declared that Daniel's sentencing trial would take place within 72 days.
Daniel's decision to plead guilty shows that he's beginning to take responsibility for his actions, thereby beginning his journey towards redemption. Tom's unwillingness to look around implies that he believes that while Daniel is the one on trial, the whole family is implicated and Mumbilli is no longer safe for them.
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