I know when Dad does the bad thing. I know when he drinks the dole money and Mam is desperate and has to beg . . . but I don’t want to back away from him and run to Mam. How can I do that when I’m up with him early every morning with the whole world asleep?

This quotation comes from Chapter VIII. Throughout the novel, Frank struggles to reconcile his love for Malachy with his anger at the way Malachy’s drinking nearly destroys the family. As this passage shows, Frank has an enormous amount of respect and love for his father, and he cherishes the time they spend together. At the same time, however, Frank realizes that his respect for his father might offend his mother. When Malachy has been drinking, the rest of the children refuse to talk to their father. McCourt reveals here that Malachy’s drinking causes not only hunger and monetary ruin for the family, it forces the children to choose between their mother and father.