So Jokes

Alexa Nunziato

Hey comedy aficionados! As you probably noticed, humour is definitely a prominent aspect in Motherless Brooklyn. Humour allows Lethem to get his point across, and to further elaborate on Lionel’s character. Through humour we understand more about how characters interact with one another, and how seriously they take certain situations. Although the situation is serious at this point in the novel (Frank Minna died) the author is still abel to throw in a laugh or two during this time of grief.

Towards the end of this section, we learn that a detective named Lucius Seminole points a gun at both Tony and Lionel in the car. Now, picture yourself being pointed at with a gun and what your reaction would be. I would probably remain speechless. Lionel, however, after learning the officers name, responds with “Luscious? You gotta be kidding me?” (187). I’m not exactly sure why, but I actually laughed out loud after this line. Lethem uses wordplay which lightens the mood of the novel at this point. By Lethem’s response, the reader is not encouraged to take this officer very seriously. This is a typical response you would expect from Lionel though. Lionel’s reaction to the gun point would be expected to be similar to his first threat from Tony: a very calm and nonchalant response. This section of the novel can be characterized by Lionel being targeted and threatened by different people: The Clients, the doormen, Tony, and the Detective Seminole.

After leaving from his meeting with Matricardi and Rockaforte, Lionel was stopped by Tony who was waiting in the car outside the house. Tony mocks Lionel and states, “You’re like the Hardy Boy’s retarded kid brother, Lionel” (179). He then slaps Lionel in the head and says, “You’re Hardly Boy”. Apparently word play makes me laugh since once again Lethem plays on the name “Hardy” to describe how childish Lionel is. Tony, Lionel is definitely not a man, and hardly a boy. He’s a dingus! Lethem wants us to realize that Tony wants to discourage Lionel from continuing this investigation and therefore feels comfortable insulting him.

Finally, saving the best moment for last, we read about Lionel’s response after being hustled into a car with two other men waiting inside. This part was hilarious! Lethem focuses on the interactions between Lionel and the four men, who are supposed to be scary. The funny part is that Lionel is not terrified in the slightest way. These kidnappers even explain how they are trying hard to be scary, which makes this scene all the more entertaining. After being pushed into the back seat of the car, Lionel’s first reaction is to think “It was a bit crowded”. He refers to his “kidnappers” as Chunky, Pimples, and Indistinct. (to be continued)


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