Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The characters in Christy Brown's autobiography are his family, and the few volunteers and doctors he meets who take an interest in helping him. The father is hardworking and dour, but a considerate caregiver for his son. The mother is never idle, but always willing to give her time and attention to the son in whom she has confidence. Among Brown's twelve brothers and sisters, there are individual voices and natures for some in particular, mostly the older siblings. The younger ones are less clearly depicted. Descriptions of ordinary family dinners sound rather like the hullabaloo of a family reunion.

The main theme throughout is almost surprising—Brown describes himself, as a young child, as almost unaware of the extent of his different abilities from most of the people in their Dublin neighborhood. Increasingly he becomes aware and frustrated by his limited ability to move and communicate. His resentment grows to very nearly suicidal levels. It is through learning to communicate via painting, writing and increasingly fluent speech that Brown achieves some measure of peace.

(The entire section is 175 words.)