Paddy Clarke

'Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha' has no authorial presence at all. Yet the reader gains
a richer understanding of Paddy's situation than he, or any ten year old child,
could ever have. How does Roddy Doyle achieve this with regard to Paddy's
parent's break up? One of the first and most relevant passages in the book is
when Patrick wakes up and hears the television and from that knows that his
parents are still awake. He stays on the stairs and listens to 'Ma' and 'Da'
arguing in the kitchen. We can tell that he doesn't want to believe that there
is any serious trouble by the fact that as soon as it stops he 'realises' that
it wasn't anything to worry about and goes back to bed. Another event leading up
to Paddy's parent's break up is when Ma decides that it is time they went out
for a family outing. However, as it was raining they had to take the car and
drive to a place that was close enough to walk but the weather wouldn't allow
them to. The family has a picnic in the car but, oblivious to Paddy and his
brother, his parents are having another disagreement. Patrick hears his mother
say something but think that his father hears her. He doesn't realise that 'Da'
is ignoring her. When 'Ma' leaves the car Paddy and his brother assume that she
has gone for ice creams but she gets back in because "It was too wet for

Cathy". Patrick knows that something had happened but didn't know what. On
several occasions the subject is changed to avoid the children being subjected
to the tension between 'Ma' and 'Da'. In one instance Paddy walks in from school
and into an argument. This makes him more aware of the problems, his father then
asks him about school to change the conversation. From this passage I have
noticed that Patrick seems to view things as black and white, not in the literal
sense but as straight forward and short term. He doesn't realise that things go
deeper or that he has a false sense of control. Another of the most important
pieces of this book is when Paddy is sitting on the stairs listening to his
parents arguing and he is rocking back and forth. This shows that the tension
between his parents is affecting him more than anyone thinks. The 'rocking'
action can be described as tension deficit, which can be caused by loneliness or
attention seeking. In Roddy Doyle's novel, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, young Patrick
is so distressed over his parents' fighting with each other that he stays up all
night trying to prevent their quarrels. Like many children whose parents break
up, Patrick thinks he is somehow responsible, but he does not understand what is
going wrong or why. He loves both of them, especially his mother. He acts out
his anxiety over the discord between his parents by often getting into fights
and by being mean and abusive to his younger brother. For awhile he thinks that
if he were to run away, his parents would stay together. He thinks of questions
to ask them so they will talk to him and not fight with each other. But his
father leaves for good, and Paddy is left with the teasing chant of his
schoolmates: "Paddy Clarke, Paddy Clarke, Lost his Da, Ha, Ha, Ha."