Malachy is off in England spending every cent of his very large wages on alcohol, so Frank is left to support the family. Frank is going to start assisting Mr. Hannon with his coal deliveries because of his bad legs. When his father was home, Frank never got any sort of compliment from him or anyone else for that matter. The only time his father or mother showed any affection for him was when he was in the hospital with the typhoid. Frank and Mr. Hannon are at the coal yard and Mr. Hannon lets Frank back the horse into the shafts of the float.
“He says, Jaysus, Frankie, you have the knack of it” (258).
Frank is just starting work for Mr. Hannon on the coal float. Everything about delivering coal makes him happy. Frank wants nothing more than to get a job and bring home wages like a man. The main reason for this is his love for his mother, who is struggling with Malachy off in England drinking the wages that he should be sending home to the family. Mr. Hannon knows Frank can do well in the world, and does not want Frank to end up like all the other men in Limerick. They have just finished their deliveries and are sitting on the float when Mr. Hannon says this.
“Go to school, Frankie, and get out of Limerick and Limerick itself” (259).
Mr. Hannon’s legs become so bad he has to stop delivering coal. This makes Frank very sad because now he doesn’t have a job, wages to bring home to his mother, bragging rights to the other kids, or perhaps evens his time with Mr. Hannon on the float. Frank didn’t know how Mr. Hannon cared about him, and it means a lot to Frank because Malachy wasn’t a very good father.
“We had two daughters that you know, and Kathleen, the nurse above in Dublin. But no son and he said you gave him the feeling of a son” (267).