We can observe the character of Paddy Clarke to be representative of the experiences of a multitude of children growing up in similar circumstances and how they can be so often brought down by their surroundings, forced to abandon their potential because they must fit in. To begin, we can analyse the family situation of Paddy Clarke and how it changes from a quaint and regular relationship to a cold and inevitably broken one.
Not only might this be used to simply depict the evolution of family life to many, starting off rosey and rather optimistic but souring after numerous disagreements, tensions, and problems until the sunshine of the family’s youth quickly reaches its twilight period, but it might also illustrate the changing awareness that comes with maturity through the eyes of Paddy.
We can argue that the mounting coldness in the family is not just because it has begun to manifest but because Paddy has begun to notice more. He has matured, found himself, taken responsibility for his actions, and has made a litany of his own decisions and he has finally found himself more aware of the problems extant in his own home.
In a way, one can argue that the novel might, because of this, be trying to depict how our vision of the past can be so often warped and distorted to the extent that our minds will willingly forget all of the woes and pains in order rot prioritise those more positive recollections. Paddy Clarke’s growth and his changes in character may also reinforce this; his realisation that the group he is with is perhaps not the most positively influential thing upon him being one.
He grows and, as he grows, he becomes wise. He realises what is truly important to him and his act of standing up to the one he both loved and feared is the climax of that. The simple act of putting his foot down and voicing his opinions, leaving the gang, is the point at which youth matures, or at least the fearful child portion youth.
However, there is a sadness in the two situations: that of the home and that of the outside world. Paddy has power in the outside world, he can choose to stand up for himself and his school activities are proof of that. However, we see that he is powerless to the situation at home.
His older brother is ambivalent, too scared himself to see any wrong in the predicament, and thus Paddy must sit idly by and watch the culmination of his family’s multiplying issues. It is this that can even paint the idea that a child is a form of two, the child at home and elsewhere. Paddy must seek strength and independence elsewhere as he is tantamount to a leaf at home, prey to the wind.
It is also debatable that the gang is important in analysis. We see Kevin take the reins as leader and he quickly abuses his power, using it to make those beneath him his toys. These minions of his are nothing more than puppets for his amusement and Paddy, though his best friend, is also victim to some of his cruel and cowardly actions.
We see a group of children that are each fearful in their own way but their fear manifests in different ways. We can assume that most of these children have their own share of issues at home and that is what has ignited these fears. Most of the children’s fears manifest by them seeking acceptance. They conform to this gang and seek desperately to fit in and so will accept any of Kevin’s commands to merely be a part of something.
Paddy is similar though we see him conquer the hold his fears have over him when he leaves the group to seek what is best for him. Kevin’s fears manifest like that of a typical bully’s, they take out their frustration by taking control and finding their therapy in dishing out what they have taken upon others.
If we look at it like this, we can see that the character of Paddy Clarke is one of change through self realisation. He discovers that his fears and frustrations rule him and he quickly ascertains to change that and do what is truly the best thing for him and his future.
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Roddy Doyle’s Booker Prize-winning novel describes the world of ten-year-old Paddy Clarke, growing up in Barrytown, north Dublin. From fun and adventure on the streets, boredom in the classroom to increasing isolation at home, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is the story of a boy who sees everything but understands less and less.