Themes in the novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

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Key themes of the novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle (source: BBC Bitesize, GCSE)

Resource summary

Themes in the novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
  1. Social commentary/ realism
    1. The novel is a window to working class life which was common in Dublin at the time.
      1. Paddy's family have to cope on very littel money- we see this in at the beginning of the novel when Sinbad loses his shoe, the will not be enough money to buy another one.
        1. Liam and Aidan's house is falling apart- his father cannot affort to keept eh house in good order.
          1. the conversations in the novel feel very natural- similar to how people talk in real life. They share the same flow.
          2. Childhood/ adulthood
            1. We are taken into the inner world of a child, Paddy's voice demands to be heard in the writing of the book
              1. Many parts of the book are recognizable as average childhood events. the boys engage in many adventerous activities such as running through the nettles as a dare.
                1. We are never quite sure if Paddy's view of the world is brutally honest or just exaggerated.
                  1. Both children and adults can be difficult in the novel e.eg. Kevin, Paddy's father
                    1. The adult world is routine and unadventerous- Mrs Clarke cooks a specific meal every day of the week, everything mathces this routine style.
                      1. The adult worls crashes into Paddy's when he discovers that Mr Carke has hit his ma. The incident creates even more uncertainty for Paddy.
                      2. Machismo (a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness)
                        1. The children in the novel inhabit a very macho culture
                          1. There is a strong sense of survival of the fittest.
                            1. The gang has a strong sense of hierarchy, Kevin being the one in charge.
                              1. Paddy shares quite a manly bond with his father unlike the sensitive Sinbad who is much closer to his mother.
                                1. The women in the novel are a stark contrast to the masculine theme. Mrs Clarke is shown as a very emotional and maternal charachter.
                                2. Family relationships
                                  1. The Clarke's family life is often very difficult.
                                    1. Thefamily engoys a few moments of tenderness together.
                                      1. Paddy is very aware of family tensions, not just within the clarke family but within many of the families around him.
                                      2. Death, Violence and Fire
                                        1. Paddy is fascined by death
                                          1. Violence surrounds him, on television and in his life
                                            1. He and his friends are fascinated with the destructive power which fire has
                                              1. Is it possible that a child who commits such violent acts will grow up to be a disturbed and violent man?
                                                1. By the end of the novel it seems that Paddy has learned the differences between right and wrong
                                                2. Irish identitiy
                                                  1. Doyle's writing reminds us of the distinctive and irish culture
                                                    1. Mr Clarke is very aware and proud of his Irish history and dentity, he sings several Irish ballads with Paddy
                                                      1. Doyle very accurately presents the Irish characters' colloquisms, accent and syntax accuratley
                                                      2. Education
                                                        1. Doyle is passionate for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to recieve a good eduction, this is visable int he book.
                                                          1. Although Paddy has several figures in his life who are trying to educate him nobody is really encouraging his natural ability, the worry is that he will not be allowede to reach his full potential.
                                                            1. Paddy shows a genuine interest in most things, it seems that he really does want to learn
                                                            2. Popular Culture
                                                              1. Paddy's favourite team is Manchester United, his favourite character is George best
                                                                1. He talks several times about Father Damien and the lepers
                                                                  1. There are several mentions of brand names which would have been popular at the time such as fig rolls
                                                                  2. Religion
                                                                    1. Athough religion seems to be taken for granted in the Clarke household Paddy does recieve a distinclty catholic upbringing
                                                                      1. Paddy believes in Goda and prays to him but perhaps this is born out of a sense of tradition and duty
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