Jim Carrey as Lionel…?


Intro: not yet done

Firstly, as a main character Lionel’s most compelling aspect is his tics, but mostly what are his tics made of and how he manages them. His tics will make this film a success and how you act them out. In the beginning of the novel Lionel expresses that he accepts the fact that he tics and he isn’t “shy” about it. “I’ve got Tourette’s”. (Lethem 1) Lionel clearly states that has Tourette syndrome and explains how he feels about it. He describes the feeling of when he tics and how his mouth won’t quit and his jay muscles beating like a miniature heart under my cheek. (Lethem 1) The Tourette’s that Lionel suffers from isn’t all so serious or that annoying. The first few chapters of the novel when Frank Minna was alive, Lionel’s tics were uncontrollable but also more often and funny. The words he ticked made the readers laugh. “Eat me Mister Dicky- weed” (Lethem 15). Lionel tics where much longer and focused on random things or words which means that when he play the role of Lionel, he will have to really “tic” and not be shy to, act like he can’t control and let loose and try to make people laugh. Lionel’s tics were “mature” towards the end of the book as in people knew Lionel and that he will tic which made people tune out his tics and kind of let his tics fade away. “[His] outbursts, utterances and tapping’s were white noise or static, irritating but tolerated, and finally boring unless they happened to provoke a response from some unsavvy adult, a new or substitute teacher.” (Lethem 83). After talking to Lionel for a while and knowing his syndrome, you will learn accept it and ignore it or help him. Some people might pay attention to it and ask his about it and talk to him about them, simply show interest and he will enjoy that attention. Lionel tics grow thought the novel from hating his tics to accepting them and letting them be. “Tourette’s was my other name, and, like my name, my brain could never leave the words unmolested.”(Lethem 110). He stated of having physical pain by his tics and ended the novel by calming them down. The viewers will have to feel what he goes through therefore the actor has to tic really hard.

Over the course of the story and detective case of Frank’s death, Lionel starts off as a shadow of Frank. He shadowed Frank everywhere he went and just watched in amazement of everything he did as a detective and as a founder of the rental car company. Lionel really enjoyed the Franks company therefore Jim will need to act in amazement whenever he is with Frank. “Minna’s special effect, a running joke embodied” (Lethem 57). When Frank was alive, Lionel observed every step, word and action he did and took notes. Frank was like a Superman to Lionel. After fallowing him for all this time he begins to follow “Minna-ism’s” (Lethem 233), when he exclaims “…the term that would become lodged thereafter in my uppermost tic-echelon: dickweed” (Lethem 76). Lionel will use this in a sense that he could turn to whenever he feels the urge to tic and therefore helping him. As we can see Lionel was never able to shine and show what he is and can do as a person with Tourette syndrome but when Frank has passed, Lionel changed. Lionel knew he had to grow as a person and step up to the plate. The character that plays Lionel will have to show that he matures during the book, show a comparison from the begging to the end, being able to identify the difference from old Lionel to new Lionel. Lionel did just so, he matured and caught the killer and also was able to somewhat control his tics and talk to people without being shy scared. Lionel is cautious with those around him making sure he doesn’t let anything slip even though it’s his new partner showing a sign of maturity. ”I could also seek out the homicide detective, earn his trust, pool my knowledge with him instead on the Men.” (Lethem 94). This helps him grow and gain maturity due to Minna’s death. “A Touretter can also be The Invisible Man” (Lethem 44). Lionel isn’t shy when it comes to his Tourette’s because he learned how to grow with it and dwell with the tics and this is another sign of maturity.

Another compelling feature that Lionel shed throughout the book is his way with jokes and laughter. Lionel’s tics are one part of his jokester style of life. “Eatmebailey” (Lethem 57). Lethem made Lionel’s tics funny just like the one phrase saying eat me or also when he tics with swear words. He made his tics rhyming such as “arbotage, sabotage” (Lethem 30). For us the readers it makes us giggle a little inside just because they rhyme but also they are random. Lionel and Frank loved to joke but Lionel especially loved it. His jokes make him who is and even though not everyone understood them. “You know what I want out of you, Freakshow? Tell me a joke” (Lethem 25). They have a joke contest since Lionel was thirteen years old, just because Frank loved to see Lionel not tic when he tells one (Lethem 25). The jokes that will be told in the movie are going to have to be somewhat highlighted in a sense that the mood of the scene might change or the facial actions of Lionel will be happy. These scenes will have to be on point because they are important scenes and they are a part of Lionel character, it shows that even though Frank is dead, he still held onto the jokes and didn’t give it up and proves jokes are part of him just like when he told the cop “you’re like good cop and bad cop rolled into one” (Lethem 114). Lionel makes the joke about the cop that he’s acting like two different cops in one body and then end the joke saying “yeah, used to be they could afford two different guys. Now with all the budget cuts and shit they’ve got us doing double shifts” (Lethem 14). As a character of Lionel, he has to make his sarcastic remarks obvious so that they viewers can laugh at them as well and not just act confused. Lionel’s jokes in the movie are key to success because it will show what genre of movie it is and it will lighten up the mood of the tics. His tics will also have to be acted properly and funny in the situation that it fits. If the tics is serious act like its serious and vice versa.

Conclusion: Not yet done

Work Cited: Lethem,  Jonathan. Motherless Brooklyn. Vintage Books, 1999

Alexander Vincelli




Highlight Reel


Dear Ed Norton,


The process of turning a novel especially one as eccentric as Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem can be a daunting task. There are many aspects of a story a screenwriter may focus on. There is the main character, the world and the setting, themes, and key scenes. From experience, highlighting important key scenes from a book can grab the viewers’ attention and heighten their cinematic experience.


The first key scene that should be showcased is the death of Frank Minna. Although he is not the main character of this novel, the plot focuses on his death and the events that lead up to it and after it. This event sets the tone of the book but also gives us a glimpse into the relationship the Minna Men (Tony, Danny, Gilbert and Lionel) had with Frank Minna. At page 34, upon receiving the news of the passing of their mentor, Gilbert and Lionel react in the following manner: “[Gilbert] stood there in deflated silence now, absorbing the pain. (…) “Problyreallyoughttogo,” I said semicompulsively, panice rising through my sorrow.” (Lethem, 34) Gilbert is practically histerical while Lionel tries to process the news as calmly as he can. He acknowledges the pain but is obviously worried about the events to follow. Tony and Danny being the two who are centered with their thoughts seemed unaffected by the death of Frank. As we move further on in the novel, we learn that Tony has a hidden agenda, which is why he does not mourn over Frank overtly. Danny simply goes with the flow as we learn more about him. Getting to know what makes each and every one of the Minna Men tic is another important aspect to focus on, which should be the following highlighted scene.


Exploring the Minna Men’s past as orphans at St-Vincent’s Home for Boys. Going to their past before they were Minna Men is important because we get to observe how they evolved through the years with Frank Minna. In regards to Lionel Essrog, he describes himself as someone who was anti-social. He states the following: “I grew up in the library of St-Vincent’s Home for Boys, (…) part of downtown Brooklyn. (…) Until rescued by Frank Minna I lived as I said in the library. (Lethem 36-37) Highlighting this scene is crucial because it gives the viewer something to compare Lionel as we go on in the book. From the beginning he is this shut-in but then he learns to be himself, which is a grueling battling in of itself without having to solve Frank Minna’s murder. The second Minna Man that needs to be focused is Tony. He could be seen as the immediate successor to Frank and Lionel’s opposite in many ways. In the novel Tony adds a dynamic to the story that Lionel simply could not. Lionel describes Tony as “their sneering star” (Lethem 40) Lionel also insinuates that Tony was the inspiration for Frank Minna to create what is known to the readers and the boys as Minna Men. (Lethem 40) It would be great to know about whom Gilbert and Danny are due to the fact that they make up part of L&L. To summarize, highlighting the scene where the Minna Men were still boys in the orphanage demonstrates dynamics that the viewer might not understand if it were not showcased, for example the hierarchy between the men.


The following scene that should be concentrated on is the departure of Frank and Gerard Minna. This scene is filled with more question than answers, which could spark the viewers’ intrigue. The scene would also give viewers a sense of Frank Minna’s emotions towards Lionel and the other L&L boys. It the following we can observe the interaction between Frank and Gerard: “they stood at the fence, Frank bouncing nervously on his toes, Gerard haning on to the mesh, fingers dangling through, doing nothing to conceal his impatience with his brother, an impatience turning to disgust.” (Lethem 80). Frank shows that he cares deeply and is proud of the relationships that he built. Moreover, in his conversation with Lionel, Frank really demonstrates him caring when he gives Lionel a book about Tourrette’s syndrome. Lionel described the situation: “He pulled a book out of his pocket, a small paperback. (…) “Take a look,” he said. “Turns out you’re not the only freak in the show.” (Lethem 81)


The next scene that should be focused on is the very first scene with Julia when she portrays herself as a Femme Fatale. In this scene, she sparks Lionel’s sexual thoughts, which we haven’t seen before with a woman. “She moved [my hands] to her breasts. (…) Sexual excitement excites stills my Tourrette’s brain, not by numbing me (…) (Lethem 103) This scene gives us a glimpse into Lionel that interests us deeply. Julia who is Frank’s wife is now showing interest to Lionel who aspires to be Frank. Further on in the same scene, Julia gives Lionel extremely important clues to what happens behind Lionel’s back. The biggest clue she gives out happens during the following conversation: “Where are you going Julia? I said tirely. “I’m going to a place of peace if you must know, Lionel.” (Lethem 105)

Melvin Buquerente

Homework for Oct. 6

Homework for Oct. 6
  1. Carefully read the instructions on how to integrate citations
  • Look at how to format the sentence before a citation.
  • Look at how to  punctuate the beginning and endings of citations.
  • Look at how to handle citations of more than three lines.
  • Look at how to handle dialogue.
  • Work on the citations for your draft. Make sure the sentences before the citations are doing what they are supposed to do.
  • Make sure everything is punctuated and formatted properly.

2. Read this article on how to write the perfect logline.

You can think the main idea of your essay, or the thesis statement, as the log line for the film. After all, you’re focusing on that one aspect as the major, overarching glue holding the novel together.

Essentially, you want to think more about the aspect you’ve chosen. So, for example, say you’ve chosen dialogue. Great. What statement are you going to make about dialogue?

It shouldn’t simply read as a summary of the novel. Each person in this class should be able to come up with a different log line, or main idea.

  • By following the recommendations in the article above, try to write a log line for your version of the film. This can essentially serve as the main idea of your paper.
  • (give it a shot, but if you find the idea of a log line confusing, just try to think of a main idea for your paper)
  • Or, maybe you already have a sentence in your draft that would make a strong main idea for your next draft? If so, underline it.



  • There is nothing to hand in for Thursday. Work on the above elements, and bring a digital copy of your latest draft to the lab. We’ll continue working on it there.
  • The schedule says that you have a reading due next class. I’m changing that, so there’s no reading due next class. You will have a reading assignment from Voyage in the Dark due on Oct. 12, so if you want to start reading it in advance, go ahead. If you choose to do so, here’s a question to start thinking about:
  • In what ways can Anna be considered an underdog or an outsider?


Here’s Lionel!

Hello Mr. Norton,

The aspect I have chosen to write about is what is compelling about Lionel and who would I choose to play his character. One of the most compelling traits about Lionel is how observant he can be. He shows this aspect many times throughout the book” Gerard nodded ever so lightly at the giant and the giant nodded back. That was all it took. The same team that had doomed Frank Minna was back in the saddle. I would be the sequel.” (pg.203) this small scene shows the awareness of Lionel and how he is able to pick up on the small details because he was observing everyone closely in the Zendo. Even with the slightest of nods he was able to put two and two together that Gerard was working with the giant and that they were probably the ones who killed Frank Minna. The next aspect of Lionel’s character that stands out in the novel is his ability to never give up and keep trying even when told not to. His tenacity is something that drives this novel because without it he would not have kept searching for Minnas killer after being warned not to verbally and physically.  Lionel was warned by multiple people from Matricardi and Rockaforte to Gerard Minna himself not to go looking for Frank Minnas killer.  Matricardi and rockaforte called him to meet with them in order to warn him saying things such as “Tony should have your help bringing that day close. You should stand behind him” and also “Tony has replaced Frank in the world of the living.” (pg.175) it seems as if they are trying to get Lionel off the case without being aggressive with him. Later the day Lionel ends up being “kidnapped” by four men who we find out are students of Gerard he sent to try to scare Lionel so he would stop snooping. Gerard also subtly tries to scare Lionel off the case in the conversation he has with him in the Zendo. He tells Lionel Lionel about the giant and says” In the giant you speak of they seem to have located a sort of primal entity- one whose true nature is killing. And sicced him as you say, on the men who they feel betrayed him.” (pg. 233-234). In the way that Gerard speaks these words to Lionel it’s as if by saying that the giant has no problem killing if he is sent after him he tries to scare him by letting him know he may die if he continues in the investigation without saying it in so many words. Lionel is someone who has Tourette’s syndrome and so he sometimes has verbal outburst which can cause surprise and confusion for those who do not know him. Lionel is able to use this condition to his advantage because people tend to believe he is not as smart as he actually is and so underestimate him. Julia actually mentions this aspect of him while they are in Maine. Apparently Frank had said to her about Lionel “He said the reason you were useful to him was because you were so crazy everyone thought you were stupid.” (pg. 300) These aspects of his character really help move the story because if he was tenacious or did not have Tourette’s the story would most likely not have unfolded the way it did. In reality If Lionel did not have Tourette’s he may have been next in line after Minna because of how good he is at analyzing people and situations. The next aspect that would be important to show in the movie is Lionel searching for his identity. Lionel throughout the novel wants to be like Frank Minna. Lionel doesn’t really know who he is but knows he wants to be like Frank and some of that can stem from the fact that Frank was the only Father figure he ever really had. The process that Lionel goes through in order to finally accept himself.

The best actor to play Lionel Essrog in a movie would be Edward Norton. In a way this choice would possibly not make sense because he is the one making the movie and maybe someone else should star in it. I personally find that he would be the best actor for this character because he has played a similar character in the past. In his early career Edward Norton played in the movie Primal Fear. His character was named Aaron who on the outside seemed innocent and even had a stuttering problem that made him endearing. At the end of the movie we see a side of the character that had not been expected. This reminds me of the scene in the novel when Lionel call Matricardi and Rockaforte and tells them where Gerard is hiding “ Gerard Minna lives on East Eighty-Fourth Street in a Zendo under another name.” (pg.285). this was not a move expected from Lionel and came as a bit of a surprise. The character of Lionel was not expected to seek out vengeance the way that he did by sending Gerard to his death the way he did with that phone call. This is part of the reason Edward Norton would be very good as Lionel because no one would see it coming from him and he has played in movies with sort of twists at the end of them. Yes I know Mr. Norton that you may feel it best for a different actor should play this role but in order for this movie to do great it needs someone who not only can play the role but also cares about the role and that would be you.

Many aspects were discussed throughout this essay but I feel that we can narrow it down to one or two that would fit best with for the movie. All of the mentioned aspects are ones that really brought Lionel to life and the mission that he was on for justice for Frank Minna. The need and the reasoning behind his actions will shine through and captivate the audience. So Mr. Norton if you are ready to start this project together then so am I am. Let’s bring Motherless Brooklyn and Lionel Essrog to life.

Sincerely, Natacha Colimon



Wheels within Wheels

Hello Edward, you have previously asked me about the one aspect that could tie everything up, and here I am to give you my answer. I think the film adaptation should focus on the secondary characters. Of course, the protagonist is important, but it is through the secondary characters that Lionel’s depth is unveiled. There is also a change of attitude from how the secondary characters view Lionel at first in comparison to how they treat him as the story goes.

What are secondary characters? Who are they in Motherless Brooklyn?
There are different characters in a storyline. Yet, we could categorize them in three groups; protagonists, antagonists, secondary characters. The protagonists are the ones who lead the story, making it go forward. The antagonists are the ones who prevent the protagonists from achieving their goal. It could be confusing at first to think who are the antagonists in Motherless Brooklyn, if we have not finished the book, because we could think of a lot of people such as Tony, Fujisaki Corporation, Matricardi & Rockaforte, Polish Guy and Gerard. Once we finish the story, we could pinpoint it to Gerard, because he was the mastermind behind Frank’s assassination. But is this story merely about a protagonist trying to find his antagonist’s true identity? Everyone might have a different opinion, but mine is that this story, was all about the protagonist, trying to define himself through finding the killer. To sum it up, Lionel’s abstract goal would have been to define his identity and to do that, his concrete goal was to find the killer, because he thought becoming a detective could bring him closer to Frank, and perhaps becoming the next Frank Minna. Although Frank was dead, he wanted to be approved by him through finding his killer. This is why I would like to think of everyone as a secondary character, excluding Lionel. These secondary characters are all connected through the protagonist, Lionel. Secondary characters are very important because they are here to enhance the story line. They are able to fill in the void and add more elements to the storyline.

It is a conspiracy; Wheels Within Wheels.

How should we focus on the secondary characters though?
We should be able to display how they make Lionel grow as a character, or at least how Lionel behaves around them. He shows different sides of him with different characters. Dialogue exchanges are important. The atmosphere he shares with each character is different, and should be well portrayed. Below you will find a summarization of Lionel’s character with different secondary characters.

First, we are revealed of Frank Minna, he is the only one who treats Lionel sincerely. He helped into shaping the initial Lionel, from a boy to a man. “With the help of Minna’s book I contextualized my symptoms as Tourette’s, then discovered how little context that was.” (Lethem 82) Lionel got to define a little more of his own self through Frank. Lionel had always wanted to be acknowledge by Frank, in a sense he was, but Lionel wanted more. Although Frank went on special trips with the others, Lionel would not regard that in a negative way. Nonetheless, Frank’s death was the triggering event of the plot. It would have seemed that Frank did not wish to drag anyone into investigating his death, since he did not directly tell anyone about the culprit. Or maybe he did, leaving puzzle pieces to Lionel, as Frank trusted him to be the only one that might go as far as revealing the conspiracy. “It’s your fault if she misses her Rama-lama-ding-dong.” (Lethem 10)

Then comes the Minna Men. As it is presented to us, there seemed to be a hierarchy between them, where Tony tops, followed by Danny, Gilbert and we have Lionel in the bottom. Though he might be ranked last, Frank appreciates him a lot and sometimes goes out of his way for Lionel. In contrast, the Minna Men do not seem to share the same bond like the two did. It seemed as if the Minna Men were together for the sole reason of Frank. If it were not for Frank, they would have never gotten together. There is a bond between the Minna Men, but it is not sincere enough. The other Minna Men see and deem Lionel as a freak. Tony has wished to be Frank’s successor, and he assumed the role when Frank passed away. Though, we can clearly see that these two do not share the same bond, instead they are suspicious of each other. “I’d never faced Tony at gunpoint before […] Now, if I’d had a gun on him, that would have freaked me out.” (Lethem 182) Lionel would have his hardboiled act in front of Tony. Lionel did not seem to experience sadness when Tony died; that was how their relationship went. Then with Danny, their relation appeared to be better as they both had that respect for each other. “Leadership of L&L had fallen to him like an easy rebound […] He took my account of the events in Maine and nodded once, and we were done speaking of it.” (Lethem 305) They did not exchange many dialogues, but their relationship is not as tense as the relationship with Tony. Also, Lionel had acknowledged Danny to be in charge of the new L&L, despite the fact that Lionel wanted to become Frank’s successor. In comparison to his relationship with Gilbert, although they were both to witness Frank’s death, they digested in different ways. Lionel could not suppress his fear and his tics happened and we can witness the embarrassment felt from Gilbert as Lionel had his tics. However, Gilbert spent most of his time in jail during the storyline, so we could not have seen much of their interactions, except the tensed atmosphere during the car chase, and that scene should be well portrayed as well in the movie. Having Loomis around, although he was the Garbage Cop, it felt like he had replaced Gilbert. Loomis overall seemed like a nuisance, but he added some humor to the storyline. Through Lionel’s description on Loomis, it was the first time we realized that Lionel was smarter than we thought. “In fact, I hated Loomis, let me count the facts […]” (Lethem 121) In the end, both Gilbert and Loomis  joins the new L&L and a certain peace seems to maintain.

Upon meeting Kimmery, we sense change in Lionel. He seems to be able to hold off his tics. He slowly falls in love with Kimmery. She seems to return those feelings and they share a night together. Yet after that night, Kimmery reveals her true feelings. “You’re kind of overwhelming [..]” (Lethem 259) He shows his desperation towards her through his endless phone calls, but at the same time those phone calls are tics, but she does not understand them. Lionel thought all this time that she would be the one that understands him, but that is not true, since she only wanted comfort.

As all Minna Men desired to become Frank, they saw in Julia, the perfect woman; Frank Minna’s woman. It is clear that through their first interaction in the story, Julia only showed a hint of pity towards Lionel. As they meet again, instead, Julia has raised her guard against him. She distrusted him to the point that she thought he could be the mastermind behind the murders while Lionel had a strong will to protect her, after being unable to protect Frank. Though, he realized one matter, that helped him define more of himself; Julia was the most hardboiled character among all of them, as he had previously thought of himself as the most cynical character. It is also through Julia that Lionel releases his obsession over everything he had previously been on about. “Barnabaileyscrewjuliaminna” (Lethem 303)

By far, that is everything I could have thought of, this needs some polishing, but the idea of Lionel being his own antagonist should remain. These secondary characters each have their own colors, and they either bring out the best or worst from Lionel. The protagonist and his relationship to the secondary characters is what ties this whole story up.

Lissom Huang


Disappointments lead to Development

Dear Mr. Edward Norton,

I have recently read an article saying that you were very much interested in adapting Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn into a film. I am also aware that you have been silent regarding this matter in the past two years. I am writing this letter to let you know that I am with you in adapting this wonderful novel into a film. I have chosen four key scenes from the story that will point to the development of the protagonist’s character, which I think is extremely important to include in order that the adaptation becomes a success. The first is Lionel and Coney losing track of the car they were tailing. The second being Frank Minna’s death. The third is that it is Danny who takes Frank’s position instead of Lionel. And lastly, that Lionel and Kimmery do not end up together in the end. As you most likely might have already observed, these scenes are disappointments, which is the main reason why I think they are important, because they are what make this novel a very impressive and unique one.


Failure to Follow Instructions

The first frustrating key scene that I think should definitely be incorporated in the movie is when Coney and Lionel lose the K-car where Frank Minna, a father figure to them, is in because they do not have an E-Z pass.

“As he edged to the right the K-car suddenly cut out of the flow, moving to the far left. We both stared for a moment. ‘Whuzzat? said Coney. ‘E-Z Pass,’ I said. ‘They’ve got an E-Z Pass.’ The K-car slid into the empty E-Z Pass lane, and right through the booth” (18).

Coney tells Lionel then, “We don’t got an E-Z Pass” (18) when Lionel pressures Coney into going through to catch the car. This part personally grabbed my attention because it led me to be probing of what is going to happen as a result of them losing the car that they are pursuing. This scene is so unsatisfactory that it makes the reader want to keep on reading to see and hope that somehow, they do catch the K-car and find out why Minna has ordered them to do this stakeout and chasing since he does not reveal to them why. He merely gives two of his men instructions such as “Get inside, just get inside” (7) and “Wait there” (7). When Coney asks what to do in case something unplanned happens, Minna simply  replies, “Worry about it when it happens” (7). This scene then, which is the hook, is crucial so that the future viewers are kept to watch until the end of the movie.


Minna’s Death: an Epiphany to Lionel

The second unfortunate key scene that I find essential to the success of this film is Frank Minna’s death because this itself is what sets off an unavoidable evolution in the character of Lionel Essrog.

“‘Ahem. We were unable to revive misdemeanor.’ ‘Wait a minute,’ said Coney. ‘You’re saying unable to revive?’ ‘Yes, that’s right. Loss of blood was the cause. I am sorry'” (33).

Because Frank is such an important person in Lionel’s life, he consequently feels compelled to find out whoever is responsible for his father figure’s death and to take vengeance for him. Lionel says he’d “woken into the realization that [he] was Minna’s successor and avenger […]” (132). Not only is this realization crucial to our main figure’s growth, it is also important so he can prove his capability when he finally finds out who Frank’s murderer is. Moreover, this epiphany forces him to meet new people such as satire cops, atrocious brutes, deceivers, and corrupt tycoons. His encounters with them definitely have great influences in the protagonist’s growth.


Lionel Does Dot Get to Replace Minna

The third disenchanting key scene is the fact that it is Danny who replaces Frank Minna and not Lionel himself. This is particularly dissatisfying for Lionel as it is his greatest dream to be Frank.

“Leadership of L&L had fallen to [Danny] like an easy 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).

Because Minna is the only role model to Lionel, it is obvious that he wants to be just like Minna. At the beginning of the novel, we see cues that Lionel really looks up to and depends on Minna such as “I rolled down the window, then reached out compulsively and touched his left shoulder, a regular gesture he’d not bothered to acknowledge for […] fifteen years” (6). The tapping on Minna’s shoulder shows Lionel’s dependence on him. And when Lionel heard from the doctor that he was unable to revive Minna, Lionel “tugged his collar straight,” (34) showing anger and disappointment for the physician’s failure to keep his father figure alive. Moreover, given that it was Lionel who figured out who Minna’s murderer is, it just seems most sensible that our main figure himself takes Minna’s position.


Kimmery, Just Like Minna, Leaves Lionel

The fourth and last saddening key scene which I consider to be equally important to be included in the movie is the fact that Lionel does not end up with Kimmery, someone whom he connects very well with. He refers to her as “different from anyone [he’s] ever met” (297).

“‘I have to tell you something, Lionel.” [Kimmery] delivered it with that same hectic half smile […] ‘I’m moving back with Stephen,’ she said. ‘So that thing that happened with us, it was just, you know-a thing‘” (309).

Kimmery’s decision to leave Lionel behind for someone else is something that definitely stupefied him. He just stood there, “opened [his] mouth and nothing came out” (309). He was not expecting this, thus he did not know how to respond. It took his tourretic self  to respond “Okay” (309). I believe that this is a significant event which contributes to the main character’s growth. This instance helps him realize that no one can ever love him more than he loves himself. Other than that, it encourages him to realize that he is the one person who will always be there for himself, even though this might sound weird. It is important that Lionel, or anyone, realizes that he does not need another person to complete him, because if he lets that happen, he will only feel lost when they leave.


from novel to film maybe 2.png

To conclude, I am convinced that MotherlessBrooklyn should be adapted into a film because of crucial scenes that all play a huge part in Lionel Essrog’s character development. These scenes are Lionel and his mate, Coney’s, failure to follow through Minna’s instructions in the beginning of the story; Minna’s death; Danny, and not Lionel, being Minna’s replacement; and Lionel losing Kimmery forever. I am in the position that the progression of Lionel’s character shown in these major scenes is very impressive. Instead of writing a going-up, optimistic ending, Lethem displays a combination of both evolution and stagnation in Lionel’s character. I believe that the uniqueness in Lethem’s choice of actions are an asset that will most likely attract viewers.

Although disappointments in life are inevitable and might be necessary for growth and development, it is important that we don’t dwell on it, which is one of the themes of this novel in the end of its story.

With Respect,

Mikaela Cuaycong


Works Cited:

Lethem, Jonathan. Motherless Brooklyn. Vintage Books, 1999.