Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Brighton Beach Memoirs is about the Jeromes, a Brooklyn family in the late Depression era (1937), and the financial difficulties they face when three relatives join the household. For three and one-half years, Kate Jerome’s sister Blanche Morton and Blanche’s two teenage daughters, Laurie and Nora, have lived with the middle-class Jeromes. Although the arrangement is basically amicable, new financial tensions culminate in hard words between Kate and Blanche. Fortunately, the argument teaches Blanche about independence, and the play ends happily, with Blanche making plans to move and with the two sisters closer than ever.
Brighton Beach Memoirs does not really focus on this story of sibling love, however; rather, it is what Simon calls his first “tapestry play.” In all of Simon’s previous plays, he focused on two or three characters and made the other characters peripheral. Here, there is a sense that each character’s story is told with similar emphasis.
Jack Jerome struggles to balance all of his familial roles, as husband, father, and surrogate parent for Laurie and Nora. Stanley Jerome, the eldest son, achieves adulthood by learning from his errors in judgment. Nora Morton, the eldest daughter, gives up illusions of easy fame and fortune as a Broadway showgirl, accepting a closer relationship with her mother and a more responsible familial role, while Laurie Morton, the sickly and highly pampered youngest daughter, will...
(The entire section is 604 words.)
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