One of the reasons for Roddy Doyle’ssuccess lies in creating a realistic and convincing character for a 10-year oldchild. He does this by his clever use of language, and also in how he arrangeshis sentences to convey deep emotion and feeling than any emotive languagecould: “He’d hit her. Across the face; smack. I tried to imagine it. Itdidn’t make sense.
I’d heard it; he’d hit her. She’d come out of thekitchen, straight up to their bedroom. Across the face. ” ? P190 In thisinstance, Doyle has used short and evident sentences, to invoke a feeling of aweand confusion. The short sentences represent how Paddy is dumbstruck and lostfor words, shocked by what he’s heard ? this is also highlighted when hesays here; “I tried to imagine it.
It didn’t make sense. ” Here, he alsoemphatically uses onomatopoeia ? “smack,” ? which adds to the sense offearful respect and also Paddy’s child-like interpretation of events. Repetition is used here ? “Across the face” ? heading his oft-repeatedamazement. Another example of how Doyle uses repetition can be seen on pages 153and 154: “I waited for them to say something different, wanting it -. .
. . . .
Only now, all I could do was listen and wish. I didn’t pray; there wereno prayers for this. . . . But I rocked the same way as I did when I was sayingprayers.
. . . I rocked – Stop stop stop stop ? . ” Doyle uses repetition to showPaddy’s anxiety, when he repeats ?stop’. Here, Paddy is mentallycommanding his parents to stop in desperation, as he thought he had done on page42: ” – Stop.
There was a gap. It had worked; I’d forced them to stop. ” Hebelieves that he has the power to make his parents stop arguing, as shown onpage 42, but realisation dawns when he repeatedly tells them to stop on page154, and it doesn’t work. This reflects on the fact that Paddy Clarke is achild, and his inability to restrain his emotions is a facet of his youthshowing through.
Another childish aspect throughout the book is how Paddy ?like other children at that age would ? spouts offhand irrelevant knowledgethat’s he’s picked up from class or elsewhere: “Snails and slugs weregastropods; they had stomach feet. . . . The real name for soccer was associationfootball.
Association football was played with a round ball on a rectangularpitch by two sides of eleven people. . . . . .
Geronimo was the last of the renegadeApaches. . . . . .
I learned this by heart. I liked it. ” Readers can relate tothis, as we can all remember when we’d learnt something that we’d foundparticularly fascinating at school or the library, and recited it all the time,thinking we were clever. Another reason why the reader of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Hahas a higher understanding than is simply because the adult audience has moreexperience in family issues ? from our own experiences.
We can see theviolence in his life superficially; we are told nothing more than what the childsees and comprehends. A good example of this can be found on page 95: “Ma saidsomething to Da. I didn’t hear it. . .
. I looked at ma again. She was stilllooking at Da. Catherine had one of Ma’s fingers in her mouth and she wasbiting real hard ? she had a few teeth ? but Ma didn’t do anything aboutit.
” Here, Paddy has given us an insight to the emotional turmoil that existsin the family, but Doyle ? again ? has not used any emotional adjectives toshow this. We can interpret what is happening from his parent’s actions, whichjustifiably speak louder than words. Paddy’s mother is staring at Da, waitingfrom him to answer, and the baby is biting into her finger, hard as Paddy says. We can tell that Ma is angry as her husband is not speaking to her, not by Doyledescribing her anger but by the fact that she pays no heed to the pain that thebaby is calling her ? such is the animosity that exists between the couple. Paddy cannot see this, and is wracked by confusion.
This is shown a fewparagraphs later: “Ma was getting out of the car. It was awkward because ofCatherine. I thought we were all getting out, that it had stopped raining. Butit hadn’t. It was lashing. ” We can see that Ma patience has been tested and,in her ire, she leaves the car.
Conformation that Paddy does not understand issealed when he asks ” ? Has she gone for 99s?” His father doesn’t reply,the silence filling the void between him and Ma ? unbeknown to Paddy, whoseinnocent question remains unanswered. We are able to read between the lines, andby doing this we can detect the silent turbulence, unlike Paddy whom is thestory’s narrator. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is written in the first person, and istherefore devoid of the authorial omniscience and intrusiveness that would allowDoyle to relate to the reader. The fact that the story is set in a first-personnarrative – with a bewildered 10-year old as the narrator – allows us to fillthe gaps in Paddy’s mind, and we can connect with Doyle’s imagination – andin doing this he has effectively succeeded in creating a realistic world throughthe eyes of an imaginary child. When reading, the reader and Paddy develop asymbiotic existence, where Paddy is necessary to allow us to see, and hear andact as a viewpoint into his world, and our superior comprehension can observethe underlying tension that ultimately culminates in the parent’s divorce. Roddy Doyle writes potent novels, rooted in working-class experience.
His firstthree novels, known as the Barrytown trilogy, focused on the Rabbittes, a familyof eight whose lives are a mixture of high comedy, depressing poverty anddomestic chaos. The novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha explores with remarkablesubtlety the development of a small boy’s empathy, as he simultaneously masterslanguage and discovers a new understanding of pain. Written almost entirely indialogue, his books are full of slang, colloquialisms, and vulgarisms. In thepast, Doyle’s raw portrayal of working class Ireland has received as muchcensure as praise in his native country.
“I’ve been criticised for the badlanguage in my books–that I’ve given a bad image of the country,” saidDoyle. The author’s own view is that his job is simply to describe things andpeople as they really are. In Doyle’s world, the lives are tough, and thelanguage is rough, but beauty and tenderness survive amid the void of bleakness. All quotes are taken directly from the Minerva publication of Paddy Clarke Ha HaHa.