Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 564

Although Brighton Beach Memoirs was written for a general audience of theatergoers, it has a special appeal for young adult readers. Four of the seven characters are in their teens, and, although each of them has a unique set of problems, there is nothing that Nora, Laurie, Stanley, and Eugene face that young people of their age group cannot recognize.

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One source of tension in the household is sibling rivalry. Because Blanche is so obviously partial to Laurie, using her supposed health problems as an excuse for spoiling her, Nora feels the loss of her father even more acutely. One positive result of Kate’s outburst is that Blanche is finally able to understand the feelings of her older daughter. Kate never realizes, however, that she is always catering to Laurie at Eugene’s expense. Fortunately, Eugene has a superb sense of irony; moreover, he views his mother as a character in the play that he will write someday.

The two older young people in the household are also impatient to be independent. Although she knows that her uncle has her best interests at heart, Nora finds it difficult to take Jack’s advice and turn down a producer’s offer. She would like to be on her own, or at least head of the Morton household, rather than a dependent of the Jeromes. Stanley, too, wants to get away. As long as he lives at home, he must account for every penny that he makes. He leaves to join the Army not only so that he can avoid telling his father about his gambling losses but also because he wants his freedom. He returns because he knows that he cannot leave with his father ill and Blanche not yet established in her own home. In time, he will leave, probably to fight in the impending war, and Nora, too, will eventually attain the independence that she craves.

Another reason that Stanley is needed at home is to act as Eugene’s mentor while he struggles toward adulthood. During this one eventful week, Stanley has taught Eugene much about his sexuality. With his information about first cousins, Stanley has even persuaded Eugene to turn his attention away from...

(The entire section contains 564 words.)

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Critical Context (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series)