Frank explains the snubs and silent treatments that are a constant presence in his neighborhood. These resentments can be long-held: a family might have alienated itself hundreds of years ago by helping the English or by converting to Protestantism to avoid dying from starvation. It is said that those in the latter group converted for a bowl of soup, and so they are called “soupers.”
McCourt contrasts the lack of communication within his own family (his grandmother doesn’t speak to his mother, his mother doesn’t talk to her siblings, his father doesn’t talk to Angela’s family, and no one talks to his uncle’s wife) with Angela’s conversations with her neighbor Bridey Hannon, which are open and affectionate. During one of the conversations, Angela recites a poem that reminds her of herself and Malachy, because its subject is a girl and her lover from the north of Ireland. Frank notes in bewilderment that his mother “goes into hysterics” over the poem’s ironies, particularly the third verse:
But there’s not—and I say it with joy and with pride
A better man in all Munster wide
And Limerick town has no happier hearth
Than mine has been with my man from the North.
Malachy writes letters for neighbors, who exclaim over his nice handwriting and his way with language.
A Protestant man, Bill Galvin, moves into Frank’s grandmother’s house on the advice of Uncle Pat. Angela persuades her mother to let Frank deliver Bill’s lunch every day at the limekiln. Frank is so hungry that he eats Bill’s lunch on the first day; in consequence, he has to deliver the lunch for two weeks without pay.
In part because of their constant smoking, Angela and Malachy must get their teeth pulled and buy false teeth. As a joke, Frank’s brother Malachy puts his father’s set of false teeth in his mouth, and they get stuck. He must be rushed to the hospital to have them removed. The doctor sees Frank breathing with his mouth open and determines that Frank needs to have his tonsils removed.
The chapter takes a humorous turn when Angela tells Frank that he is to take Irish dance lessons every Saturday. Frank feels foolish at his first class, and he spends the money for his next lesson going to the movies with Billy Campbell. He continues skipping classes and using the money to go to the movies and eat sweets. When he gets home after his trips to the theater, he invents his own dances so that his parents won’t suspect his ruse. Angela and Malachy finally confront their son after his teacher sends them a note asking where he has been. Malachy forces Frank to confess his sins to a priest.