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.