The master says it’s a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it’s a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I wonder if there’s anyone in the world who would like us to live. My brothers are dead and my sister is dead and I wonder if they died for Ireland or the Faith. Dad says they were too young to die for anything. Mam says it was disease and starvation and him never having a job. Dad says, Och, Angela, puts on his cap and goes for a long walk.

This quotation comes from Chapter IV. McCourt points out the danger of sentimentalizing death. When adults tell children to look forward to death, children will lose motivation and abandon their ambitions. This quotation uses the rhythm and style of a real conversation, which reveals Frank’s awareness of his parents’ conflicting views. Angela is typically hard-nosed and feisty, blaming the death of her children on Malachy’s inability to hold a job and feed his family. Malachy’s behavior is also typical, for he often says “och, aye” in response to difficult situations, and then goes out to escape conflict rather than confront or resolve it.