Structure

The structure of a text refers to the way in which events are organised inside the work as a whole.

As Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is written from the point of view of a ten-year-old child it does not have a plot as such, but is a series of episodes recounted by Paddy.

We meet his family and friends through a variety of events retold one after another. The narration is episodic, and many events seem unrelated to those that come before or after them.

These non sequiturs are typical of a child’s way of seeing the world and telling stories. Paddy’s recounting of important events is often interrupted by asides about earlier memories, comments on things he is reading and conversations he has had with his father.

Here is an example of one extract which comes between a description of how much he likes peas and a short account of his parents telling Paddy and Sinbad to go back to bed when they get up too early:

My da spoke.

- Where was Moses when the lights went out?

I answered.

- Under the bed looking for matches.

- Good man, he said.

I didn’t understand it but it made me laugh.

As the novel is all written in this style, the reader gets to experience exactly what kind of disjointed thoughts and ponderings go through the head of a child.

The novel can very loosely be divided into three different sections:

  • an introduction to Paddy’s family and gang with details of the mischiefs and scrapes he gets involved in
  • an introduction of the problems between Mr and Mrs Clarke
  • the final section where Paddy’s family break up and he falls out with his friends

Even though Paddy seems to have developed a new maturity by the end of the novel, there is a tragic note in his grown up and rather formal final conversation with his father. He has lost the innocence and freedom from grown up concerns that he had when we, as readers, first met him.