AP Book Report 1. Title of Work: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant 2. Author and date written: Anne Tyler, written during the 1970s-1980s. 3. Country of author: Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America 4. Characters: Pearl Tull (major)- The single mother of three children, Cody, Ezra, and Jenny. She is very independent and resourceful. Pearl sets very high standards for herself and does not want assistance from anyone. Ezra Tull (major)- Ezra is the middle child and the youngest son of Pearl. He is the most sympathetic character in the novel. Throughout the novel, Ezra is noted to be the favored child of the three.
Cody Tull (major)- Cody is the eldest son of Pearl. He is the least sympathetic character in the novel is very straightforward. He grew up with a troubled childhood and usually takes most of his anger, hatred, and jealousy on his brother, Ezra. He dominates the novel because Tyler has given him more chapters on his point of view than others. Jenny Tull (major)- The is the youngest and only daughter of Pearl Tull. Jenny often recalls painful events of her childhood, most of which involves her mother. She grows up to become a pediatrician and is married three times. Towards the end, she realizes she has a lot in common with her mother.
Beck Tull (minor)- The husband of Pearl and father of the three children. He is handsome, fragile man who is employed as salesman. Beck abandons Pearl after fifteen years of marriage claiming that his company has relocated. Mrs. Scarlatti (minor)- Ezra’s business partner and the owner of Scarlatti’s Restaurant. She is also like a mother figure to Ezra. Mrs. Scarlatti is a relaxed and flexible character. She leaves the restaurant to Ezra after she dies and he changes the name to Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. 5. Major settings: The story is mainly set around Baltimore, Maryland.
Pearl, Ezra, and Jenny, with the exception of her college and medical school years, have resided in Baltimore most of their lives. Cody spends the less time in Baltimore because his job requires traveling. However, he purposely decides to choose a place away from home. The novel takes place from the 1920s to 1979. 6. Plot Outline: The novel starts with Pearl Tull lying in the hospital bed dying. She is reminiscing while her youngest son, Ezra is by her side. The story then slowly flashes back to when her kids were younger. It begins when the Tull family is abandoned by their father. Pearl is left to raise three kids on her own ithout the assistance of others. The story progresses as each of her children tells of their past experiences. Her oldest son Cody, often criticized his mother on his upbringing. He is jealous of his brother, Ezra, claiming that he is his mother’s favorite. Ezra, on the other hand is the most innocent child of the three. He is closest to his mother and appreciates her. Ezra was part of the military but later decided to come back to Baltimore and work at Scarlatti’s Restaurant, owned by Mrs. Scarlatti. After becoming a favorite of his boss, who he also considers a surrogate mother, he ends up owing part of the restaurant.
When Mrs. Scarlatti dies, Ezra is left with the restaurant and he renames it to “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant”. Her youngest child, Jenny, is the first one of her children to get married. Jenny runs into trouble in all her marriages. She has divorced and married three times. However, Jenny seems to be the only one that is able to find happiness. She works as a successful pediatrician and is raising kids as well. The main goal in the novel is to complete a family meal. The Tulls will often gather together at Ezra’s restaurant, but every time the dinner starts, it always ends in an argument.
In the end, Pearl dies and is not able to join her children for a complete meal, but they have their father present to take her place. 7. Major themes: Alienation and Loneliness- Pearl Tull is portrayed as an extremely alienated individual. After her husband leaves her to care for three children, she is determined to raise her kids without assistance from anyone. She won’t even inform her best friend about her husband, and when the neighbors ask about him, she tells them he’s on a business trip. This distance she has with the community affects her children as well.
They long to see her gossiping with other women or having some outside connection with others. Growth and Development- Each of the characters in the novel have grown or developed in one way or another. As time passes, Jenny begins to realize that she’s acquired some of her mother’s good and bad traits. Ezra, however, remains somewhat of a child as he grows up. Nonetheless, he shows the most concern for others, even non-family members. Cody still remains as competitive as he was as a child. He doesn’t find much happiness and is confused about his motivation until he confronts his father.
He then begins to realize his actions and reactions in the past. 8. Symbols in the book: One of the symbols in the novel is the restaurant. The restaurant is a symbol of togetherness in the family. The restaurant and the Tull family are not very stable, and both have Ezra trying to keep them from falling apart. After Ezra is left with the restaurant, her changes the name and tries to keep it running. In addition to that, he is also trying to bring his family together. He often calls them for a family dinner. However, the dinners always end up in some sort of argument. Another symbol in the novel is vision.
In the novel, Pearl’s vision is slowly dissapearing. This symbol represents that she is starting to lose her children. She only remembers them as children and doesn’t know them as adults. However, when there’s a lot of light in the room, she can see the silhouette of Ezra, which shows that he is closest to her. 9. Significant Imagery: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is a novel that suggests a homely, everyday activity. In this novel, the action is eating. Ezra, the cook in his restaurant is the central image. He serves food that is not only for consuming but also medicinal and curative.
The colors, textures, and feel of the delicious food serve as an essential component in both cooking an eating. The novel revolves mostly around olfactory images. 10. Significance of title of work: The title of the novel is the name of Ezra’s restaurant. “Homesick” can be interpreted in many ways, as it is in the novel. Someone can be “sick for home”, “sick at home”, and “sick from home”. The Tull family often has family dinners, but they always go unfinished due to an argument. However, these dinners are what keep the family together. In the end, everyone but Pearl has a finished dinner. The pressure might have lessened after she died. 1. Author’s techniques that are important to this work: Anne Tyler tells Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant from many different viewpoints. Each of the chapters is told from a characters perspective. These chapters also reveals something that is unique or unusual about the character. By alternating the different viewpoints, the reader understands the characters better than they understand themselves. Another technique Tyler uses is the emotional tone of the novel. Throughout the novel, majority of the conversations have an overwhelming emotion in it. This suggests that the family lives under a lot of pressure.
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