At school, Frank is now in the fourth form, which is taught by Mr. O’Neill, a tiny man with a passion for geometry. Mr O’Dea, the fifth-form master, is infuriated when he finds from Paddy Clohessy that Mr. O’Neill is teaching the boys about Euclid and geometry, because geometry is not supposed to be taught until the fifth form. The headmaster orders Mr. O’Neill to stop teaching it.
Every day, Mr. O’Neill gives his apple peel, a great delicacy, to the boy who correctly answers a difficult question. One day, this honor falls to Fintan Slattery, whom Frank describes as a dandified do-gooder. Fintan goes to church every day with his mother; he curls his blond hair and answers taunts with a saintly smile. Fintan shares the peel with Frank, Quigley, and Paddy Clohessy. This humiliates the boys, who do not want to be associated with the feminine Fintan. Fintan invites Paddy and Frank to his house after school, luring them with promises of food. Fintan’s mother serves milk and sandwiches with mustard, luxurious treats for the boys. Paddy and Frank are worried, however, by the fact that Fintan goes with them to the bathroom and says he enjoys looking at them.
A few days later, Fintan invites the boys home with him for lunch, but instead of feeding them, he eats his sandwich by himself. Angry and hungry, Paddy and Frank don’t return to school after lunch, but cut class to steal apples and milk from a nearby farm. Quigley sees Frank and tells him his parents are looking for him and are going to kill him. Scared, Frank goes home with Paddy, who lives in unbearable squalor. Paddy’s father is consumptive and lies in bed coughing up green fluid into a bucket. The next morning, Angela appears with the school guard and tells Frank how worried she has been about him. Mr. Clohessy reminisces with Angela, remembering how they used to dance together. Angela sings for the dying man and cries as she leaves his home, sorry for Mr. Clohessy’s sickness and sad to remember the carefree times they had when they were young. Frank is sorry for Mr. Clohessy, but he is mostly relieved not to be in trouble.
Malachy continues to drink away his dole money. The brothers, even three-year-old Michael, take their cue from Angela and refuse to talk to Malachy during the weekend after he drinks the dole.
Frank has a friend named Mickey Spellacy whose siblings are dying of consumption one by one. Everyone envies Mickey because he gets a week off from school for every sibling that dies, and money and sympathy from grown-ups who feel sorry for him. Mickey asks Frank and Billy Campbell to pray that Mickey’s sick sister will not die until September, so that Mickey can get a week off from school. In return, Mickey promises Frank and Billy that they will be invited to his sister’s wake, where there will be food and singing and stories. Although Mickey gets his wish, and his sister dies during the school term, the boys are not invited to the wake. Frank is satisfied when Mickey himself dies of consumption the following year and doesn’t get any time off from school.
Grandma decides Frank should help Uncle Pat deliver newspapers. Uncle Pat mistreats Frank, making him run about in the rain, and paying him poorly. Frank delivers the paper to an old man named Mr. Timoney, and agrees to read to him for money. Mr. Timoney is a smart, well-traveled, crotchety old man, and he takes to Frank. At Timoney’s request, Frank reads John Swift’s satirical essay “A Modest Proposal.” Angela tells Frank that Mr. Timoney served in the English army in India and married an Indian woman who was accidentally killed by a soldier. Angela is thrilled that her son now has two jobs, but Frank gets in trouble with Declan Collopy for missing the Confraternity’s Friday night meetings. Declan insults Uncle Pat, and Frank fights Declan. Mr. Timoney vows to talk to Pa Keating about Declan’s bullying. It is a relief to Frank to have the companionship of Mr. Timoney, who talks to him like a friend would. A little later, however, Mr. Timoney is pronounced demented and taken away to the City Home because he laughed when his dog bit three people and when a priest pronounced his Buddhism a danger to Catholics.