Doyle uses the parental figures within Paddy’s life as symbols of stages of growing up. The mother represents the “Peter Pan” effect of wanting to remain a child forever with her treatment of him; she is a secure base which provides stability for Paddy. Whereas the mature treatment of Paddy by his father symbolises how Paddy is becoming more independent and grown up. Sinbad as more of a brother and a closer relation in regard to age is an ever present figure that is in constant contact with Paddy, this is perhaps the most important relationship as Paddy has the most interaction with his brother.
Paddy idolises his father, which can be attributed to the fact that Paddy see’s less of his father than anyone else within the family. Paddy’s mother is always in the house and Sinbad is generally in the same place as Paddy all the time. As Paddy’s “Da” is a working man he see’s less of his children and leaves much of their upbringing to his wife. We first see Paddy’s idolisation of his father when his “Da” see’s him with the magnifying glass. “He pressed his thumb on the glass. I pressed my thumb on the glass.
“He” and “I” the subjects of the two respective sentences are pronouns that tell us the concentration of the sentences. The repetition of the dynamic verb pressed shows how Paddy wants to imitate the actions of his father. The only other differences within the two sentences are the pre modifiers used in front of thumb; this symmetry shows how Paddy wants to mirror his father’s actions. This idea of idolisations is shown again; “I followed him into the living room”. The pre modifier and personal pronoun “I” shows us that Paddy yearns to feel close to his father.
He follows in order to obey and impress. The dynamic verb of followed is used to show us how the Father has authority over Paddy and that Paddy’s respect and arguably fear of his father spreads to unwittingly copying and mimicking his behaviour. As readers we suspect that Paddy holds fear for his father due to lines such as; “He put his hand on my shoulder. ” We find Paddy describing events in a desensitised way using noun phrases because he is uncomfortable with physical contact from his father.
Paddy dehumanises both his father’s hand and his own shoulder by categorising them separately to the person whom they belong to. The scene presented becomes more abstract, although Paddy obviously idolises his father he is always wary of crossing the line and feeling the consequences. Paddy lacks compassion for his little brother Sinbad. “Sinbad’s lips had disappeared because he was pressing them shut so hard; we couldn’t get his mouth to open. ” The use of noun phrases such as “Sinbad’s lips” and “his mouth” dehumanises Sinbad to the point where Paddy just see’s him as an object.
This shows the reader just how much Paddy lacks compassion or empathy. Also, although it seems it is mainly Paddy attempting to force the capsule into Sinbad’s mouth he uses “we”, as though to say because he is failing it is the responsibility of the whole group. In using this technique Doyle presents a child unable to face failure and who is over reliant on the support of his peers. Paddy’s lack of recognition for his brother’s feelings is again shown; “He’d screamed. His face had gone red, then purple, and one of his screams went on forever. Again we see Doyle’s use of the noun phrase as paddy dehumanises Sinbad’s pain, “his face”. There is no sense of sympathy in the passage as Doyle uses many stative sentences during the passage. This shows how Paddy feels no emotion connected to what’s happening, he is simply describing events. Also at no point does Paddy express guilt, considering Sinbad’s injuries are as a result of his actions, this aptly shows his emotionless, and self centred nature as he is able to recognise emotions when it is his own pain.
The treatment of Paddy by his Mother could not be more contrasting than that with his father. Paddy is only a nine year old boy and his mother better treats him like one. When he comes home after being stung by a jellyfish she is slightly patronising towards him yet subtly so that Paddy is oblivious, “will I go next door and call for an ambulance? ” She use lots of questions almost humouring the young Paddy. The use of so many interrogatives allows Paddy to express himself but as Paddy is only a child his mother is obviously trying to encourage him to develop.
This is a typical mother reaction, attempting to nurture their child. We see this use of interrogatives again later when she is told by Paddy that he has a vocation. “What’s that, Patrick? ” and “Has someone been talking to you? ” at this point she is busy cooking and tending to Catherine, Paddy’s baby sister. We see how she tries to balance trying to entertain Paddy with these other things. The attention seeking young Paddy is slightly frustrated by this, “Good boy she said, but not the way I wanted”.
He goes to her looking for attention, the use of the personal pronoun “I” shows us how he is concentrating on himself and not his mother. He is slightly self obsessed like many young boys and this attitude is especially clear when interacting with his mother. There is a clear overuse of the personal pronoun “I”, everything is hung around Paddy and no-one else. It is clear that the contrasting relationships that Paddy has heavily influences his choices and behaviour. He looks at his father like a role model to the point where he attempts to mimic him.
He is desperate to impress but also slightly fears him. Paddy concentrates on his father’s actions and reacts to them. Unlike this Paddy is far more self obsessed when interacting with his mother, she is almost unimportant, all the events are centred on Paddy, his emotions and his actions. We are also introduced to a more cruel side to Paddy with events involving his brother. He fails to emotionally connect with him and cannot recognise his emotions or in some ways his rights. Overall it is the combination of these family relationships that moulds the young Paddy and greatly influences his development.