The Story of Tom Brennan

by

J. C. Burke

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The Story of Tom Brennan: Chapter Thirteen Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Monday, none of the other kids at school seem to even notice Tom and Kylie, let alone whisper about them. Rory checks and makes sure that Tom is okay, and, on the stairs, Chrissy tries to catch up with Tom. When she finally does, Tom insists that he's fine. After school, Tom, Rory, Jimmy, and Brad go to Burger King. They talk about jail; Jimmy's cousin is also in jail, but for a year more than Daniel will be. Tom feels secretly relieved. He's no longer hiding a secret and there are no consequences for that.
When Chrissy makes the effort to check in with Tom, it shows that she sees him as an individual in need of care, friendship, and connection—she clearly doesn't think he's a bad person because of his association with Daniel. Tom's relief at having the secret out suggests that he'll now be able to move forward and make friends with his teammates.
Themes
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Tom and Kylie don't speak to each other. Tom feels as though he can't let Kylie know he's okay, since he still thinks she shouldn't have told anyone. Because everyone else is so preoccupied, Tom spends most of his time at home with Gran. One evening, he asks her if she misses her chickens. Gran lovingly reminisces about two of her chickens, Cain and Abel. Tom wants to know why Gran named two hens after men, and Gran explains that Cain was greedy. Tom tries not to laugh, especially when Gran reminds Tom that Cain murdered Abel without qualifying that she's referring to the Bible story, not the chickens. Tom suggests that Gran get more chickens, but she insists she's too busy.
This conversation with Gran shows that in addition to seeing himself as an individual, Tom is also starting to understand that other people are individuals as well, not just grandparents or parents filling a specific role in his life. By trying to get at what Gran actually thinks is important and what she loves, he's able to form a deeper connection with her and start to understand how she sees the world in a more nuanced way.
Themes
Family Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Tom had been hoping that Fin would drop the idea of a birthday party, but Aunty Kath organizes a barbeque for everyone on Saturday. The night before, Tom goes out to see a movie with Rory, Jimmy, and Brad. They see Chrissy there with Davin, and Brad explains that Davin can have any girl he likes and then move on when he's ready.
Brad's description of Davin suggests that Davin is an awful lot like Daniel, which doesn't bode well for his relationship with Chrissy, given what happened to Daniel and Claire.
Themes
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Tom discovers Kylie on his bed when he gets home. She apologizes for her speech and admits that she thought giving it would make her feel good. She offers to let Tom read it so that he knows exactly what she said and explains that she didn't say anything bad about him. Kylie says that she feels bad mostly because her speech negatively affected Tom. She explains that she's angry at Daniel because he ruined everything and never considered anyone else, and she admits she did the same thing by giving the speech.
When Kylie and Tom become more aware of the ways in which they resemble other family members, it shows them beginning to reevaluate how their family actually works and the roles they all actually play. Here specifically, it suggests that there are no true "good guys" in the family; everyone is flawed.
Themes
Family Theme Icon
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Tom relents and points out that people would've found out eventually, and he and Kylie discuss that there's been no backlash. Kylie asks if Tom will forgive her, and Tom decides he's done being angry with her. He forgives her, and they laugh for a few minutes before then talking about Fin's party. Tom says, almost to himself, that they couldn't have stayed in Mumbilli. Kylie agrees that Coghill is different, but not bad. Then, Kylie starts to giggle again and says she overheard Brendan on the phone—apparently, Chrissy thinks Tom is cute.
By forgiving Kylie, Tom opens himself up to form a closer relationship with her which could, in turn, help both of them to heal. It's also important to note the undertones of acceptance here; both Tom and Kylie accept that they needed to move in order to be able to move on with their lives. This then suggests that they do recognize that they're growing, changing, and starting to feel better.
Themes
Family Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon
At the rehab center, Tom recognizes a lot of guys from the hospital where Fin was. He tries not to cry when he sees Fin in the wheelchair. Aunty Kath makes a wonderful cake and Mum even tries to look nice. Tom can feel the air get chilly when Mum and Kath are near each other, and Brendan tries to ease the tension with little success. Tom tries to escape by helping Dad barbeque, but Fin comes and parks his wheelchair next to Tom. Fin talks about St. John's losing a rugby match and remarks that Bennie's might beat St. John's. He asks who the Bennie's five-eight is and says that even if Rory is good, it's probably not the same as playing with Daniel.
Fin's attempts at conversation imply that he's still trying to remain involved with his old life, even if he can't physically participate in Mumbilli life or rugby anymore. This shows that Fin is also trying to figure out where he fits in going forward, and rugby still offers him a way to connect with Tom. His comment about Daniel suggests that like Tom, Fin still sees Tom and Daniel as intrinsically connected to each other.
Themes
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Fin asks if Tom saw the stacks of birthday cards he got from people in Mumbilli. Tom quietly says he's sure everyone misses Fin and thinks that Fin is making it really hard to not hate him. A few minutes later, Tom finds Kylie and Fin to tell Kylie they're leaving. Kylie's eyes are watery, and Fin explains that he got a postcard from Claire. He says that she's in Rome and will bring back holy water for him. Tom wants nothing more than to leave and is thrilled to head back to Coghill. He thinks that there's no point anymore in looking backwards. The next morning, Mum and Dad get a call that Daniel's mental state went downhill with Fin's birthday. They leave for Westleigh and get a hotel so that they can visit him daily.
Fin's language makes it very clear to Tom that he's still a beloved figure in Mumbilli, while the Brennans are not (especially given that Daniel's birthday was the week before and, outside of the Brennan family, seemed to pass without mention). This is indicative of just how angry Fin is with how things have turned out; he's willing to weaponize his status in order to hurt his family on purpose.
Themes
Family Theme Icon
Friendship and Teamwork Theme Icon
Identity and Independence Theme Icon
Debt and Redemption Theme Icon