Reading Response #4 (due Sept 26)

Read until the end of Motherless Brooklyn, and respond to either one or both of the questions below. Your choice. The total for your entire response should be between 200-300 words. If you feel you have enough to say about just one of these questions, then just answer one. If you find you have a little bit to say about each, answer both. Include at least a couple of references or citations in your response.

  1. Does Lionel get what he wants at the end? Why or why not?
  2. Do you consider this a satisfying ending? Why or why not? (by “ending” I don’t mean just the last few paragraphs. I mean the way the book wraps up, the last chapter or so).

To respond, click on “leave a comment” (written below). You’ll have to sign in with your WordPress account (or enter your email address and your name). Write your response. Please write your full name at the bottom of your response so I can identify you. Click on “post comment.” Copy and paste your response onto a Word document and save a copy for yourself, just in case. You don’t need to print it and bring it to class.

While I encourage you to read and be inspired by each other’s responses, each response must be completed individually. Feel free to quote each other, if you like. If you do, just make sure you give credit to the original author. If your post is too similar to any posts above yours, I’ll assume you copied it/them.

The responses are always due before class on the due date. You must attend class in order to be eligible for a grade on your response.

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34 thoughts on “Reading Response #4 (due Sept 26)

  1. Question 1
    I think Lionel does and does not get want he wants. Ultimately, Lionel never ended up with Kimmery this disturbed Lionel because we can see throughout the final pages of the book that he caught feelings for Kimmery and ultimately wanted more. For instance, when he was talking with Julia before their standoff he tells her that he met a girl, Lionel not even knowing what he and Kimmery were, was confident that they would eventually be a thing when he’s done investigating Minna’s murder. Unfortunately , for Lionel that wasn’t the case when she finally decided to meet up with Lionel she asked back for her keys and told Lionel she’s moving back in with Stephen. Lionel gets want he wants in regard to the investigation. He figures out the truth behind the murders of Minna and Tony but, also learns a lesson “The ghosts I felt sorriest for weren’t the dead ones. I’d imagined Frank and Tony were mine to protect, but I’d been wrong. I knew it now” (Lethem 311). Lionel’s goal throughout the whole book was to avenge Frank’s death but eventually realised that in a way he deserved what was coming to him, for that matter everyone else that died in the book as well. He only truly felt sorry for Julia but even at that he won’t go out of his way to bring her back to Brooklyn. L&L finally became a legit business once Lionel returned to Brooklyn; they were actually a detective agency and car rental service without no Mobsters or Japanese pulling the strings.

    Anthony Sciola


  2. Does Lionel get what he wants? I honestly don’t know. Lionel grows throughout the story but seems to fall back into place at the end. He is able to come to grips with the death of Frank and although I do not think he replaces Frank with Danny he is unable to start his own life as an individual. Obviously he was shaped by Frank and the idea of Minna Men but as the story neared the end I thought he was going to break free and actually start a life. The ending also makes me feel like there is no change and as soon as we grow up we become who we will be, and no matter what happens we always revert back to that. All that being said I think that Lionel does come to an understanding of himself and his Tourettic impulses, the way Lionel says “Never met the guy. Just like Bailey. They were just guys I never happened to meet. To both of them and to you I say: … [ ] … Tell your story walking.” (311) To me this seems as though Lionel is saying goodbye to Bailey and accepting his Tourette’s. He seems more at peace.
    Thomas Leclaire


  3. Question 2
    The ending was satisfying to me because I feel that everything was wrapped up. The book did not really leave any loose ends with any of the characters except a little with Julia but Lionel says he could have found her if he wanted to and that was good enough for me. Knowing what happened between Lionel and Kimmery, the Minna men and Gerard was important to me and the ending covered it all. Finding out that the call Lionel made to Matricardi and Rockaforte ” Gerard Minna lives on East Eighty-fourth Street, in a Zendo. Under another name. He’s responsible for Frank’s death.” (P.g 285). This was the reason for Gerard’s disappearance to me was justice for Frank Minna and that was important since that is what Lionel was seeking the entire novel. We also see that even with Minna and Tony gone, the rest of the Minna Men have stuck together ” L&L was a detective agency, a clean one for the first time. So clean we didn’t have any clients. So we were also a car service, a real one now.” (P.g 306). Knowing that in the end Lionel was able to get justice for Minna and still keep his relationship with the Minna Men going was a good way to close out the novel.


  4. Throughout the novel Lionel , is determined to accomplish an important quest , a task that pressures him to use all means to an end , a sort of sensation of vengeance and guilt is flowing in his veins . One of the main conflict that the detective had to sort out was the murder of his “ role model” , Frank Minna . Indeed , he risked his own life in order to discover and finally solve the knotted mystery of Minna’s case . After joining all the pieces of the puzzle together , and cutting the Gordian knot , he felt to some extent a sensation of relief , an accomplishment , a heavy weight that have been released of his shoulder , creating almost a sensation of levity . A great example of his “quest emancipation ” is when he decided to throw five specific objects to the sea as a symbol of detachment and to bring to a close and put “ my (his) final word on the subject ” ( Lethem , 303 ) . He decided to cast away Tony’s and Julia’s gun , Minna’s beeper , the “men of peace” cell phone and his right shoe . Hence , the fact that he desisted all these object ( except Frank’s watch because “I (Lionel) was sentimental about the watch. It had no taint of doormen or Clients” ) signifies that he has now accomplished his duty and that Frank Minna is finally resting in peace .

    Furthermore , Lionel seems to be more peaceful and less harsh towards himself , he finally accepts himself for who he really is even though , he did not engage in a relationship with Kimmery or Julia , he has something better than that ; acceptance , affection and friendship from his old orphan friends and co-workers , running their REAL car and detective business. The passage that emphasizes it even more is when Lionel said that

    “ (…) the Minna brothers are a part of me deep in my grain, deeper than mere behavior, deeper even in regret, Frank because he gave me my life and Gerard because , though I hardly knew him , I took his away “(Lethem , 310)

    Now , Lionel gives the reader the feeling of a new start , a new blank page , a new book is written by the pen of destiny … but don’t forget always “ Tell your story walking “ .

    Leila Bencherif


  5. While I believe that the ending to the novel is satisfying, although barely, I find that the story was at the same time dragged out excessively, especially the last couple of chapters or so. In addition, I find that the ending, where Lionel thinks “I know [Ullman] haunts this story, but he never came into view, did he?” (Lethem 311). This line is extremely unnecessary, as it appears simply as the author’s way of trying to create some sort of sequel hook, but instead the line makes it appear as though the story has no real conclusion and it demeans Lionel’s entire experience within the novel. The entire novel is a journey through Lionel’s mind and how his world view changes through his need to finally become independent, however to suggest that Lionel may or may not have really changed throughout the story leaves nothing more than a sense of wasted time. This is especially poignant since the story’s climax and denouement were in my mind executed to perfection especially when Julia tells Lionel “I think the giant’s your Snuffleupagus, Lionel” (300). While this line also discusses a character being a figment of Lionel’s imagination, what differs between these two passages is their purpose in exposing Lionel’s character. In regards to the giant, the reveal that he might be simply part of Lionel’s imagination is an indicator of how wrong Lionel has been for the majority of the story, in regards to his perception of the crime he was investigating, and signals for a great deal of change within him. On the other hand, the line about Ullman suggests that nothing has in fact changed and that the story has simply returned back to square one and that the entirety of the novel was all for naught.

    Jerry Huang


  6. The ending of the novel wasn’t exactly satisfying for me, for at least Lionel’s sake. Lionel finally had found someone he was in love with where she wouldn’t even mind his tics, and even encouraged him to tic, but yet they don’t even end up together! “So that thing that happened with us, it was just, you know –a thing” says Kimmery breaking it off with Lionel, poor Lionel was so excited to see her again (309). Although I did kind of expect this to happen since, while Lionel was on his investigation on the road following the giant and Tony he had called Kimmery a number of times, which can be quite irritating, “You call too much” she had told him (258). I was rooting for Kimmery and Lionel, I had hoped Lionel wouldn’t be alone at the end of the novel and hoped that he had a chance of real happiness. For the book’s sake, I liked how the end of the novel wrapped up with a “Tell your story walking,” because that relates to most part of the book (311). For example, Lionel with his Tourette syndrome, all he does is think and dissect every aspect of everything, which is his story in his active brain walking through his mind.

    Julia Graziani


  7. Many of Lionel’s unanswered questions are finally answered which is why we can consider it to be a satisfying ending. Lionel is able to put the pieces together when we learn about both Frank and Gerard’s early life. He is discussing the events with Julia and he says “Let me work out the next part.” (294). This demonstrates Lionel’s evolvement and the detective that he has become. We get a glimpse of the reasons for which Gerard wanted to kill his brother, such as the jealousy he felt towards Frank and Julia’s relationship, when Julia states that “He wanted me back.” (298). Jealousy can be a great driving force for getting back at someone and Gerard has taken it to extremes by killing his own brother because of it. We also see the story come full circle when Lionel states that “I’m sorry about Frank and Tony, but the story’s over. You and me, we made it through alive.” (301). We therefore see that Lionel is content with the information that he’s discovered in the end and the detective work surrounding this case has come to a close. L&L is now for the first time, a “clean” (306) detective agency, and Gerard has disappeared. Despite his success in this domain, he experienced very little success with his love life. Kimmery reveals that she is moving back in with Stephan, her ex boyfriend. Lionel was expecting Kimmery to be there for him as she made him feel reassured and comfortable, and this is a feeling to hold onto for someone like Lionel. Unfortunately, the feelings weren’t mutual. No matter how different Lionel thought Kimmery was, she simply wasn’t going to be a part of his happy ending.

    Sara Vetere


  8. Question 1)
    In the end of the novel I find Lionel does not get what he wants. Lionel wants to be accepted and he wants to have a special connection with someone and he does not get that. Near the end of the novel he meets up with Kimmery in a coffee shop and they talk. Kimmery tells Lionel ” I’m moving back in with Stephan” (309). Lionel wanted Kimmery to be his special connection, when Lionel and Julia were at the light house, Lionel explained that ” She’s different from anyone I’ve ever met,” ( 297) referring to Kimmery. Lionel is barely accepted by the other minna men in the L&L new shop.
    I consider it a satisfying ending for many reasons. Firstly, because we found out everything that was happening , who killed Minna, why tony got killed and all the tiny connections between all the characters. Secondly, Lionel isn’t ditched by Danny or Gilbert, they still find he is a freak show but they accept him either way.Thirdly, it doesn’t give us a surprise or uncommon ending for the story, it makes sense with the story line. Some endings are a complete plot twister and leave us more confused than we were reading the novel. This novel ends with us completely understanding the entire novel and being able to make the connections.

    Siobhan McDonagh


  9. The ending of Motherless Brooklyn wasn’t really satisfying to me because I guess I was expecting another outcome. I felt a bit disappointed when I finished reading the book. It felt as if there was something missing. The ending lacked that punch which is such an essential part of a novel. After I finished reading it, I thought to myself, “Was that it? Is that all?”. One of the things I was disappointed about was when Kimmery went back with his old boyfriend, and that Lionel and her weren’t together anymore. I really thought that they would have a happy ending. Kimmery was such an important person to Lionel. I found the ending also a bit confusing, which made me frustrated. When Julia said to Lionel, “You remember the Snuffleupagus? […] [N]obody could see him except Big Bird. I think the giant’s your Snuffleuapagus…”, After reading this line, I thought that Lionel made up the giant (Lethem, 300). Then at the very end of the novel when Lionel said, “Only Ullman […] haunts this story, but he never came into view, did he? The world (my brain) is too full of dull men, dead men. Ullmen. […] Ullman? Never met the guy. Just like Bailey. They were guys I never happened to meet.” (311) I didn’t know whether Ullman was simply a part of Lionel’s imagination or was he actually real. That particular passage made me think that the whole mystery behind the story had never really existed. It reminded me of one of those stories that would end by “and it was all a dream”. I was left unsure whether Lionel had actually made up some of the characters. It wasn’t clear to me, which was another reason why I wasn’t satisfied by the ending.

    Claudia Keurdjekian


  10. I don’t believe Lionel gets what he wants by the end of this book. Throughout the book, he quotes Minna many times using “Minna-isms” (Lethem 187) and other forms of his speech and he expresses how much of an effect Minna had on his life. It seemed to me that Lionel wanted to develop into the new Minna when the time comes and be in charge of the Minna men. By the end of the book, Danny replaces Minna and Lionel is left back basically where he started at the beginning of the book; working for Danny “the new frank Minna” (Lethem 305) at L&L as one of the Minna men. Also, in the book, he had several experiences that in my opinion demonstrated a want for affection and companionship. These signs of craving affection were also shown in his tics starting at a young age ranging from “reaching, tapping grabbing and kissing” (Lethem 45) too. When Lionel finally meets Kimmery, a girl whom accepts him for who he is, he is extremely happy. The author led the readers to believe that Lionel might finally find a woman to love and care for him. Lionel finally finds a girl who he describes as “different” (Lethem 297) from other girls because she is intrigued by his personality. However, Kimmery ends up leaving Lionel for her previous boyfriend. Thus, leaving Lionel alone again. In conclusion, I believe that Lionel does not get what he wants. He is left back where he started, working at L&L, with no woman to love him.

    Steven Colalillo


  11. As much as I loved the book, the ending did not satisfy me. Lionel, who had grown more confident, reverted back to being his awkward, timid self; this is the first time I’ve ever witnessed character development being erased. I realized that I’d lost a connection with him at that point and that there was nothing to Lionel without his Tourette’s. We never learn how he is innately different or unique. (I mean, would he really be an outcast, and underdog, a loner, if he didn’t have Tourette’s? Would he even be a worthwhile character?)

    Throughout the novel, Lionel is passive about how people treat him. Suddenly, he makes a nasty jab at Kimmery, saying that “[she] and lemongrass broth hadn’t ruined [his] taste for the finer things” (311). This is so out of character and contrived. It seems like an idea Lethem conjured up at 3 A.M., one that he thought so spectacular that it just had to make the cut, despite not fitting in with the tone of the book or the character. It was especially off-putting considering a few pages earlier, in the standoff with Julia, Lionel holds Kimmery in esteem. Another instance of out of character dialogue is when Lionel remarks, “You and Tony compared more than notes, Julia” (296). Why does Lionel, in this serious confrontation, even bother to mention the Minna woman’s sex life? It was slipped in there in such a slick manner, eliciting one of those “oh damn she just got roasted!” reactions. My immediate thought when I read this was: since when is Lionel the wisecrack in the novel?

    Lastly, I feel like Lionel disappeared after page 286, and Lethem began narrating the story. At that point, Lethem meagrely threw in Julia’s backstory and awkwardly tied up loose ends. The novel ended on such a mundane note, and it almost felt as though none of the Minna men were changed or particularly affected by the 300 pages of chaos preceding the poker scene.

    The real mystery in the novel lies in Lethem’s choice of conclusion.

    Vanessa Correia


  12. In my case, I enjoyed reading the last assigned pages of the books. I was unable to stop myself from turning the pages because I felt so curious and intrigued by the plot. At first I was not sure whether if the girl from Nantucket would be a joke, then I thought it could have been Kimmery, but as I kept reading the truth came to me; it was Julia. It was not stated, but her identity became apparent. “It was there the girls met the two brothers.” (Lethem 287) Furthermore, as I finished the book and gave it some thought, it occurred to me that Motherless Brooklyn’s plot is basically a big conspiracy. Once more, Frank Minna’s saying would apply here; wheels within wheels. The ending of the book seemed to have taken different pieces throughout the book and placed them together in order to illustrate a masterpiece. Motherless Brooklyn is a masterpiece left for its readers to admire. The tourettic touch of Lionel throwing out five meaningful things at sea expressed his deliverance from his Frank Minna obsession. “Five, I thought. But who’s counting? (Lethem 303)”The protagonist accomplished his goal. The final chapter was composed of trivia informations readers would have wanted to know. For example, whether if Lionel and Kimmery ended together or what happened to L&L. These trivias were satisfying enough for me. To wrap it up, I would admit that I was not too sure whether if I liked the book or not because it felt boring at times, but the ending threw me off, and I definitely enjoyed the book.

    Lissom Huang


  13. Question #2
    I don’t consider this a satisfying end to the story at all. Personally, I enjoy a good old happy ending or at the very least a bitter-sweet one, but this just fell flat for me. The main character came full circle and somehow ended up in a similar position to where he was in the beginning. I found myself asking if that’s all there was to it. Lionel stays in Brooklyn, stays at the L&L (only under different leadership), goes to the same places and talks and thinks about the same people. He realizes this himself: “I’ll pretend I never rode that train, but I did”(310). Throughout the story, his gain of new skills and experiences create the illusion of a man prepared to fight for himself and live in his own right. However, at the end of the story, Lionel still remains “the freak show” of the gang. Gilbert tells him: “‘Read ’em and scream like the maniac you are'”(307). This gives the impression that though Tony, with his harsh and violent ways, was gone and Frank, the beloved boss, was dead, Lionel was still treated like a good for nothing weirdo and probably always would be. This book makes readers pity the main character. He truly seems hopeless, especially after things with Kimmery don’t work out. That girl made him believe he could be loved. That he could have a normal relationship with someone and be seen as ordinary. Unfortunately, in the end, Lionel was even too weird for the zen girl.

    Neta Fudim


  14. The ending of the novel was quite intense, I have read it in a breath. Did Lionel get what he wanted? Yes and no. Lionel tended to find love and inner peace, to have a sense of belonging. He thought that he found ” the one”, and hoped that once he will find Frank’s killer, he will find peace and will be able to continue his life next to Kimmery: ”This person is different, ‘ I said. ‘She’s different from anyone I’ve ever met.”(297) Nevertheless, the things did not turn the way Lionel hoped too, as Kimmery decided to move back with her ex boyfriend, leaving Lionel alone again. This is the part of the book that I would like to be different, I hoped till the end that Lionel would find someone, because he deserves it , and he has so much love and devotion to give. On the other side, he found Frank’s killer, and now he could go on with his life without the feeling of guilt. Since Frank’s death Lionel was feeling that he owes that to Frank, and he won’t be able to live knowing that Frank’s killer is unpunished: ”Guilt I knew something about. Vengeance was another story entirely. I’d have to think about vengeance.” (285) In the end he has his friends whom are like a family for him, he has a piece of Frank, his business, but love will come one day, may be, because us humans always hope for the best.
    Marcela S.


  15. In the last 50 pages of the novel, there are many events that happen. It is like a last sprint where the author rushes and puts everything together so that everything makes sense for the reader. Between the pages 286 to 303, Jonathan Lethem puts all the pieces of the puzzle together. It is the moment that the reader is waiting for. It is the moment when you vocalize “AAH” in a silent library. I really liked how the author presented the end. It was nicely written and most of the things in the story now made some sense. It explained everything, starting from the day that Julia met Frank to the present day. Therefore, I consider it a good ending for a detective novel. However, I wanted to see something happen between Kimmery and Lionel. Kimmery was one of the only character that respected Lionel and that Lionel felt comfortable around her. The way that she finished with Lionel made me feel pitiful for Lionel. Also, we learn that “Gerald had been leaving himself out of it, playing the Zen innocent, when in fact he was the wheel’s hub.” (293) Jonathan Lethem must be a fanatic of cars and wheels (just skim throughout the book and see how many times the word “wheel” pops out). Lethem used the expression wheels within wheels and talks always about the brand of different cars. Getting back to the aforementioned citation, a hub is the central part of a wheel. So, Lionel describes Gerald as the source that makes the wheel rotate (source of the problem). Eventually, that wheel makes another wheel turn and provokes a cascade. Wheels within wheels! So, answering to the first question, Lionel indeed gets what he wants. He wanted to know the killer behind the man he says “gave [him] life” (310). When I was reading the ending, I thought that Lionel acknowledged that Frank wasn’t a good role model. Lionel “threw [Minna’s beeper] as far as [he] could, but it didn’t have enough heft to keep from being knocked down by the wind” (302). So, it seems that even if Lionel tried so hard to get rid of Frank Minna, it didn’t work. Mother nature rejected his request! He is still a Minna Men.

    Ilyas Mohamed


  16. In my opinion, Lionel gets and don’t gets what he wants at the end. I had a lot of expectation about the ending of the book and especially Lionel’s faith. It turns out barely nothing came up to what I thought about the ending. Firstly, we all know or maybe its only me? Anyways, Kimmery would’ve been a potential girlfriend and it is also what Lionel believed. After that the murder case was solved, Kimmery wanted to meet with Lionel which made Lionel nervous and exited. Unfortunately, she passes the news that she got back with “Oreo Man” (309) and again, Lionel is found to be alone again. Nevertheless, he always sought to find the killer of Frank which in fact, is what he did and the mastermind of the crime was Gerard.
    As for how I feel about the ending, I don’t like it at all. Yes, all of the pieces of the case was compiled all at once together and made sense but, I wonder why Danny ended up taking the seat of Minna and Tony; “Now that Frank and Tony are gone, Danny could play the sort of music he liked.”(305) I wished that it was Lionel and the main reason is because he was the only one who had solved the case, it only makes sense right? Again, I always thought the relationship between Lionel and Kimmery would go far beyond being in the “friendzone”. I also feel that Lionel just came back in the situation he once was in the beginning of the story. With a little reasoning, I concluded that the course’s theme and the ending just correlate each other which is that the main character will always end up as an underdog, outcast and a loner whatever the circumstances.
    Hersi Nur


  17. It seems to me that the main visible goal of Lionel was achieved which was to find Frank Minna’s killer. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the story, we progressively learned that Lionel wanted more than just to find the murderer. With Kimmery, we learned that he wanted emotional comfort or at least someone he can fully trust and share his feelings with. When he was on his way to Maine, he kept calling Kimmery and we get a sense of desperation from Lionel. He “was exhibiting a calling-Kimmery-tic” which gives us the idea that she is a very important person to him (Lethem 261). Unfortunately for Lionel, at the end, Kimmery went back to live with Stephen which would lead to Lionel not reaching his “emotional” goal.

    In my opinion, I am somewhat happy with the ending. There is a sense of relief from Lionel when he throws away the objects out to the water. Even though I kind of wanted him to end up with Kimmery at the end, I was still satisfied because the L&L business is going good and he is around people that he grew fond of.

    Eduard Panopio


  18. Lionel seems to be content with what he finds out about the mystery of Frank Minna’s death. On the other hand, I don’t believe that he gets what he wants for himself, relationship wise. In the end he figures out, with Julia’s help, what happened after the time that Frank and Gerard disappeared from Brooklyn. He puts the pieces together and gets closure on who killed his mentor and why it happened which was his mission since the beginning. What he doesn’t get though, is Frank’s position at L&L. “Leadership of L&L had fallen to him like an essay rebound, one he didn’t even have to jump for, while the other players boxed and elbowed and sweated on the wrong part of the floor.” (305) This exact sentence leads me to believe that Lionel was upset over the fact that Danny, the one who has in fact participated the least in this whole business, gets to run L&L. On top of all that, he doesn’t get to be with Kimmery, the one girl who he felt connected with. Another thing that doesn’t work out for him is his relationship with Julia. She never appreciated Lionel and in the last chapter he says “I need to rescue Julia now, retrieve her form this lighthouse and the bareness of her story against the Maine sky.” (297) These words show that he wants Julia to be safe and show her that he cares, something that Frank Minna never did. In the end she tells him to “Go to hell, Lionel” and “Screw you, you maniac.” (303) to which he responds with a usual tic.

    Konstantina Vanikiotis


  19. After finishing the novel I feel that Lionel does get what he wants but I also feel that there’s a part of him that isn’t happy. He got what he wanted when it came to finding the murder of Frank Minna, but didn’t get wasn’t satisfied when it came to his relationship with Kimmery. He discovers “[Gerard’s] responsible for Frank’s death” (Lethem 285). He finds out what he’s been looking for throughout the whole novel, but although he said “I’d have to think about vengeance” (Lethem 285 ) he doesn’t act upon his thoughts because he grew as a person and didn’t feel the need to avenge his boss’ death. Lionel thought he was going to have something more with Kimmery but it turned out that it didn’t happen.
    Yes I do consider this ending a satisfying ending because all the pieces of the puzzle were put together. It was interesting throughout the whole novel, it kept us on the edge of our seats, the conclusion was just as good. It wasn’t a crazy plot twist which I also liked.

    Giuseppe Gallo


  20. After reading a few responses of my classmates, I have to agree that the ending is not satisfying. I guess we were just expecting so much of his desires to be achieved. For example, we thought Lionel has finally found his true love who would accept him as he is and understand his condition. We were wrong because Kimmery ended up getting back together with her old boyfriend.
    We also thought Lionel would have a chance at being the leader of L&L just like Frank Minna. Yet, none of this was accomplished. In the end, I think the main point of the story was to point out that maybe what Lionel really needed was to just find his place and be himself. He was never meant to be a leader but he is just fine being the way he is: a “Freakshow”. The L&L remained together and he had his own part in the group. I feel as if now they have truly become a team as if they were family for they have suffered the same loss.
    Towards the end, I became confused about is his feelings toward Julia. He says : ” It was Julia I couldn’t shrug off, though she was hardly more mine than the others, though she’d barely recognized my human existence.” (p.311) He was claiming that he did not feel any guilt toward Tony or Frank but towards Julia. I couldn’t quite grasp the idea of why because he did not particularly do anything wrong towards her, unless he just was just feeling sorry that she had to go through all that trouble…

    Jemirille Bajala-Tuazon


  21. The novel ended with a checkmark for some such like Lionel but I did not truly believe it was a legitament success. I find that Lionel wanted more than just to find the person who killed Frank Minna, he wanted someone in his life that can he look up to or just be a friend because he lost his. For example, he meets Kimmerly and has a good conversation with her and she enjoys his tics and company but she then states that what they had was nothing, “So that thing that happened with us, it was just, you know –a thing” (Lethem 309). And then ends up going to fix what she had with her ex-boyfriend. Furthermore, Lionel isn’t a satisfied person after he finds out the killer because for me as a reader, I saw that he wanted to become in charge of L&L but instead we find out Danny “the new frank Minna” (Lethem 305), takes the role when Lionel worked much harder for it. We can all agree that Lionel had big shoes to fill when Frank died and he did fill them. Some could say that Lionel somewhat figured himself out as a person with Tourette’s just for the fact that he kind of new when ton expect the tics and tried controlling them which made the ending of the story somewhat pleasant and for the fact that he found the killer sand the huge story behind it and the connections between everyone. This story with Lionel and the crime scene could have him “on his toes” for a while because of the fact that who can he trust now a days.

    -Alexander Vincelli


  22. Throughout the book I was rooting for Lionel: the underdog and Frank Minna’s successor. However, I was disappointed by the ending and in Lionel as I expected a more dramatic and surprising resolution. Then again, this was not your typical mystery book. If you think of it in terms of solving the mystery, yes it was quite disappointing and the story line was dragged on for longer than needed, but there is another side to the novel. I was expecting a lot more from the character named Ullman. Lionel responded to my curiosity about Ullman with a quick remark, “Ullman? Never met the guy. Just like Bailey” (311). Ullman was kept behind the scenes throughout the novel and I was expecting Lionel to shine a light on him. We got to experience Lionel’s thoughts, his life, and what is it is like to live with Tourette’s. In my opinion, looking back at the book, I don’t think much about the murder or the mystery aspect of it. I prefer to focus on how we were welcomed in Lionel’s world of Tourettes, how he deals with his guilt, his outburst, and his place in Brooklyn. Finding Minna’s killer meant more to Lionel than a solved-mystery. It meant being at peace with himself, and this is exactly what he does. In my opinion, Lionel was satisfied with solving the mystery. He no longer felt the need to be Frank Minna. Lionel threw his gun, Frank’s wallet, and beeper into the ocean. He no longer viewed Frank Minna as an idol as he says, “You chose your battles ,Frank Minna used to say, though the term was hardly original to him” (303). The way he speaks of Minna is so dark and pessimistic. Frank MInna is not special to him anymore, and Lionel is ready to live life safely and legally.

    Alexa Nunziato


  23. As much as I loved reading the book, I can say that the ending was slightly anticlimactic for me. The outcome of Lionel’s mission feels neglected in some ways. But he still gets what he wants.

    His investigation is completed. Throughout his entire research, Lionel wanted to find Minna’s killer, and he did: “Gerard Minna lives on East Eighty-fourth Street/He’s responsible for Frank’s death.”(p.285). He sets himself free and completes his quest by telling Matricardi the results of his investigation.

    His commitment led him to change his persona. He was becoming the new Frank Minna. Regardless, he ends being the same guy as perceived at the beginning of the story; He discards Tony’s and Minna’s stuff but keeps Minna’s watch as a reminder and quest’s reward.(p.303)

    He met Kimmery. Both were becoming intimate friends. Even her seductive feelings alleviated Lionel’s tics noticeably. After all, they didn’t end up together: “I’m moving back in with Stephen”, She said. (p.285). Lionel was excited to be with her but she left him a disappointment. I felt the same too. But regardless, as a personal opinion, things happens and most importantly, you do what you feel like doing and life goes on. This is what Lionel did; “Put an egg in your shoe, and beat it. Make like a tree, and leave. Tell your story walking.”(p.311) He leaves pretty much everything behind and starts a new chapter in his life.

    Ricardo Thomassini


  24. Personally, I do not consider this to be a satisfying ending. After watching the main character struggle with his disability, trusting others and being the outcast, I wanted to see a happy ending. I felt connected with Lionel in the way that I too am an outcast who has difficulty trusting others and suffers from my own mental illness. Therefore, I wanted to see Lionel succeed, have him find the killer and win the girl. I wanted to best for Lionel, to have him no longer be the outcast but be seen as a hero and someone to look up to. Someone who brought justice to his family and got the girl and the family business too. However, I know this is unrealistic and therefore heartbreaking. It helps put things in perspective that nothing is ever perfect and it is best to accept what you have than to reach for something. There was a passage near the end of the novel that stuck out to me. The passage reads “ the world (my brain) is too full of dull men, dead men…” (311). Reading this makes me feel like Lionel is describing how is head is now haunted from the past and misfortunes he must endure. I feel as if I can relate to this in so many ways, perhaps this is also why I was more hopeful for Lionel. Overall, I would have liked for the ending to finish on a happier note where the character finally achieves everything they deserve.


  25. Does Lionel get what he wants at the end?

    I thoroughly enjoy how Lionel’s so in tune with his emotions. Although he was always so determined to find Minna’s killer, he realized he needed something greater for himself. To be able to connect on an intimate level with somebody who would truly understand him and love him for who he is, rather than judge him for his Tourette’s. Tourette’s doesn’t define who you are as a person, and I think that Lionel’s ultimate goal was to find somebody who believes in that as much as he did. He was ready for Kimmery but the investigation got in the way, as she was ready to move with Stephan, although the positive outcome is now Lionel knows there’s hope at finding another lust like what he had with Kimmery. His emotional goal was reached, even if he didn’t end up with her, he now knows its possible. His physical goal of identifying who horrifyingly murdered his mentor was achieved. Although he didn’t go through with turning her in to the authorities, he could put his mind at ease. It was Julia, Frank Minna’s wife. “But I didn’t try to find Julia – simple as it would have been, I knew better than that. Instead I let my obsessive instinct get to work,” (311). Turning L&L into a legitimized car rental service and detective agency. Lionel is a leader, rather than the follower everyone expects him to be.

    Chelsea Silva-Martin


  26. We get to know Lionel Essrog throughout the course of Motherless Brooklyn, we see how he interacts with the world and how the world interacts with him. We see him evolve through this, become more than just the dumb lackey of the Minna Men. But in the end, he seems to remain in the same position as when he first started. He has not found someone to care for and he has not gained the acceptance or respect of his peers. What he has gone through will become a part of his past, just like Frank Minna, “You can go back to pretending if you like. I know I will, (…). I’ll pretend I never rode that train, but I did” (310).

    Lionel did learn a lot; most of his questions regarding Julia, Tony, Frank and Gerard were answered and his mystery is, for the most part solved. This gives him some much needed closure, but I do not believe that closure is what Lionel wanted most.

    If there is one thing that Lionel has learned out of all this, one thing that he wanted, it is that the world he lives in is Minna’s; that he sees the world through his eyes. This gives him a deeper understanding of his life; a realisation: “…though the Minna brothers are a part of me, deep in my grain, deeper than mere behaviour, deeper even than regret, Frank because he have me my life and Gerard because, though I hardly knew him, I took his away” (310).

    To me, the ending was satisfying because in the end everything comes full circle. Lionel reflects on what he has gone through, the men that have died, of those he never knew like Ullman and those he will never know like Bailey; “I can’t feel guilty about every last body. Ullman? Never met the guy. Just like Bailey. They were just guys I never happened to meet” (311). I especially like that the novel ends with, “Tell you story walking” (311). It makes the novel come full circle in a way that does not leave the reader with questions, but rather concludes it.

    Charlotte Lapointe


  27. Does Lionel get what he wants at the end? I am not sure about this. And I think the answer of this question only Lionel have it. But I’m seeing him happy, because he knows who the killer of Frank Minna is. Also, Lionel telling us: “So we were a car service, a real one now, one that didn’t turn away calls unless we truly were out of cars”(306). This makes readers feel satisfied about Lionel. He is doing the work that he really likes. Also, he found a person who he likes, but she is not feeling the same thing back. “So that thing that happened with us, it was just, you know – a thing” (309). She is cutting “everything” that happened between them. I was so sad about this. I hoped that Lionel will find the person who will love him without looking at his syndrome. During all the story Lionel trying to struggle with his Tourette, but at the end we can see that he “compare” it with Ullman and Bailey and he is trying to keep it as far as possible from him. “Ullman? Never met the guy. Just like Bailey. They were just guys I never happened to meet. To the both of them and to you I say: Put an egg in your shoe, and beat it. Make like a tree, and leave. Tell your story walking” (311).
    Karyna Statko


  28. A satisfying ending? A difficult question to answer, for if one is looking for the usual novels that have a vastly romanticized ending where everything is perfect, then it was not a satisfying ending. However, the grim, realistic, and somber ending that the novel provides is oddly satisfying. Very few things go well for poor old Lionel externally, but the real development is within him, internal: “’So what am I, then?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know kid. I guess I’d call you King Tugboat’” (309). To everyone around him he will and always will be a freak of nature, but it is now known not to underestimate this undying underdog. This sliver of positivity is brief when the novel quickly returns to its asymptote, mundane weekdays at the newly run car service and the revolving loop of daily life undisturbed by the significant events that may have happened a few weeks ago: “’That won’t do it freakshow.’ He tossed down aces and eights. ‘Read ‘em and scream, like the maniac you are’” (307). Lionel seems to come to a gradual understanding that he will never be the best, he will never be Frank Minna, the Oreo Man nor Bailey, but he can very much be the greatest freak show on the market. On the other hand, Lionel makes another reflection that the world doesn’t care for such an insignificant person from run down Brooklyn and the soothing lull of the world goes on unaffected: “Put and egg in your shoe, and beat it. Make like a tree, and leave. Tell your story walking” (311). Overall, Motherless Brooklyn was satisfying in an unsatisfying way.

    Lucas Tremblay-Moll


  29. The ending of the book leaves me a little on edge, since I do not feel like Lionel got what he wanted. Although, he learns about Frank and Gerard’s past, which seems to answer his questions, he does not get to be with Kimmery. She decides instead to go back with her old boyfriend: “I’m moving back in with Stephan” (309). This is what seems to make me doubt that he is fully satisfied with what he receives at the end of the novel. Also, since Frank Minna’s death, Lionel seemed to want to fill in his role and lead the Minna Men; he was slowly taking on Frank’s place as he felt it was his duty. In the end, Lionel is pushed to the sidelines and does not upgrade to any other status then the one he occupied when the novel started, and Danny takes on Frank’s role: “Want to be the new Frank Minna?” (305). Maybe Lionel ends up figuring out who killed Frank and he feels a sense of accomplishment in that extent, but he loses Kimmery, the only girl that made him feel normal and accepted him for himself, and he does not get to fill Frank Minna’s role, which he felt should have been his to fill. I think that the knowledge he finally obtains does not outweigh his loss of Kimmery and his status amongst the Minna men.

    Savana Di Quinzio


  30. The ending of the novel was not very satisfying with regards to the way Lionel was just really like left hanging and doesn’t get what he deserves. In my eyes I always saw Lionel as the person who would take over L&L because he was almost like Franks apprentice at the beginning of the novel. He looked up to him the most out of all the Minna men and I believe he deserved to run the business not Danny. “Leadership of L&L had fallen to him like an essay rebound, one he didn’t even have to jump for, while the other players boxed and elbowed and sweated on the wrong part of the floor”(305). Lionel was the one really making an effort at L&L trying to find out who Franks killer was and yes he does get closure on that but the biggest part of who he is gets taken away from him. On the other hand he was also seeking some sort of affection and when he finally does find a woman, Kimmery who accepts him, she then vanishes. Lionel is left with the short end of the straw and his transformation throughout the book really meant nothing at this point for him. Lionel is left at a really low point at the end of the book, which is quite disappointing.

    Andrew Augoustis


  31. It is really hard to say if that was what Lionel’s really want. As we know through the book, Lionel always wanted love and he finally find his love when he met Kimmery. At the end, Kimmery tells Lionel that it won’t worked between them, so that its kind of a disapointement ended for Lionel. In the other side through the book, Lionel always wanted to find the murder of Frank. He find the murder of Frank at the end, that makes him satisfy but we can see that Dany is trying to be as Frank. He says himself ” The new Frank Minna” (305) and we can see that he realized that he is not as Frank. So I would say that, Lionel’s ended was not what he wanted, he still seems to be hard for him that it is not woking between him and Kimmery.

    Alex Mukwende


  32. The ending of Motherless Brooklyn wraps calmly. Lionel’s realization don’t seem to upset him a great deal. He begins to adapt to the new changes in his life, from the still recent death of Frank and of Tony, to Kimmery leaving him, to having an idea of what happened leading up to where he is now. Lionel seems to learn to accept change and that it is unavoidable, inevitable. During the development of the novel, Lionel keeps himself in a bubble that’s comphortable for him but as the story progresses he sees that he can’t grow and become enlightened without pushing your limits.

    I wouldn’t say Lionel got what he wanted in the end. Yes he did uncover much of the mystery behind the death of him mentor, but the realization that everyone around him was involved and he was the one shut out from secrets I’m sure made him feel betrayed in the end. At first he thought it was simple murder but he got far more than he asked for. But I think all in all, he will just accept and heal from the point the novel ended. I think maybe that’s why there are references to Buddhism in the story. It’s almost like Lionel is going through to the steps to enlightment, but he is still rocking the waters getting his way there.


  33. I found the ending of the novel to be very satisfying. We got to know who killed Frank Minna as well as the logistics of the plan behind the murder. I particularly enjoyed the chapter entitled “Formerly Known”. It was told by Lionel in a way that it was objective. It took time to put the puzzle pieces together of the story he was telling. It started off very random and as the chapter came about it felt like as if I had personally discovered the truth. A specific moment where this occured was at page 288 as follows: “The girl and the older brother were lovers after a while. The older brother’s visits grew both briefer and less frequent. Then one day, the older brother returned … with his younger brother in tow. (Lethem, 288). I realized it was Minna and that the trip to Maine did serve a purpose. The ending was also satisfying to me because Lionel ended standing up for himself multiple times throughout the end of the novel. The first was with Tony, then he talked to Matricardi and Rockaforte then finally with Julia. In the final pages, Lionel pulls on gun at Julia and describes the scene “I stepped back, but pulled out Tony’s gun as I did. I saw Julia’s finger tighten as I raised it to her. … The two guns drew us closer and rendered the rest irrelevant. (Lethem 300).

    Melvin Buquerente


  34. In my opinion, Lionel does get what he wants in the end of the story. Originally, his objective was to find “Minna’s Killer” thus, after the encounter between Gerard and himself, his objective shifted. Something clicked in his head, not only did he wanted to find the assassin behind the man he truly admired but also the causes that were implied in it. In the end, the fog that laid in the murder was uncovered. It was illustrated by Lionel when he said, “Fujisaki must have told Gerard to take care of it, as a show of good faith. So Gerard hired the killer.”(293) Lionel remains faithful toward Minna even till the end because Frank was the only one who truly cared about him, “ those soft places that caused him to collect freaks like me or that finally led him astray.”(296) Aside from the plot, it can be seen that Lionel character has grown tremendously. During the last pages, as a reader, we are able to see that he is not bothered by his Tourette’s syndrome. He accepts his tics as a part of him.
    In my perspective, the ending of Motherless Brooklyn was a satisfying one. All the unclear mysteries were resolved even though, the explanation behind it was pretty complex.

    Amanda Ging Sze Chan

    ***Originally posted in the wrong place.


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