English 150 Recitation Lesson Plan: The Butcher Boy

Isaiah Jackson
English 150
Wednesday 20 November 2013, 5 p.m. section

Selected Text

Not a bad day now, ma'am. Not too bad Francie thank God. Hello there you old bogman I mean Mr. Farmer. Have you got the hay in yet? You're hard at it! Indeed I am! Goodbye now! Ting-a-ling! Whistle whistle bark bark-clear off dog! Morning guv! Same again next week? What's that then? Two pounds of pork chops, a couple of kidneys and a sirloin roast. Oh and a couple of bones for Bonzo! No problem no problem at all guv! Ta-ra then!

Discussion Points

I chose this quote because it shows Francie Brady in his role of the butcher boy, which is a huge part of the book. This quote has a feeling of routine-ness to it while his life has been anything but routine.

In general, this book encompasses all of the topics we discussed in class. This might be the best work we've read in terms of the portrayal of Irish life.


This book is really interesting as it is written in both stream of consciousness and vernacular. This allows the reader to really get into Francie's head, and experience what he's going through as he goes through it. Because of this, it makes the book much harsher, and more startling. It shows how warped Francie's view of the world and thought process really is. It also lets the reader realize the feeling of being an outsider that Francie is going through. The thought process that we can see from Frankie is disturbing, and it allows the reader to experience his loss of innocence.


Drinking: His father is an alcoholic since Francie's childhood. As a result, his father is emotionally and physically abusive to his wife, which ultimately leads to her committing suicide. This also plays into the stereotype of the Irish brawler, as his father is physically abusive to his mother: She mustn't have said anything for the next thing he was off into his speech about his father leaving them when he was seven and how nobody understood him. He said she lost interest in his music long ago and she didn't care it wasn't his fault she was the way he was. Then he said she was mad like all the Magees, lying about the house from the day they married, never did a hand's turn. Why wouldn't he go to the pubs? She had never made a dinner for him in his life? Something else broke crockery or something and then ma was crying: Don't blame me because you can't face the truth about yourself, any chances you had you drank them away!…But it wasn't all over and when I stopped listening to the cars I'd hear him: God's curse the fucking day I ever set eyes on you! (6-7)

This also really demonstrates the way women were thought of at the time. It also shows how the men tended to blame the women in their lives for their problems. Francie's dad blames his mother for not supporting his father, forcing him to lose interest in his family and career. Likewise, he is blaming his wife for not supporting him, which is forcing him to be an alcoholic. Also, he claims that she never cooks for him so why wouldn't he just go get drunk?

Religion: Father Sullivan, the priest in the novel, molests Francie while he is living at the church. To me, this read like a slight to Catholicism, as priests are Catholic pastors. This portrays the priest as a disgusting, twisted man, who plays a big role in robbing Frankie of his innocence. In the scene, the priest kisses Francie on the mouth, then makes him sit on his lap while he masturbates. Sit up here he said and slapped his knees. So up I went. What does Tiddly do then only take out his mickey and start rubbing it up and down and jogging me on his knee. (84-85)


Pig—the image of the pig comes up time and time again in this novel. It comes up during the most significant parts of the book. Early on, Francie and Joe Purcell become friends with Phillip Nugent and, after some time, end up stealing expensive comic books from him. Mrs. Nugent goes to confront Francie's mom and says, She said she knew the kind of us long before she went to England and she might have known not to let her son anywhere near the likes of me. What else would you expect from a house where the father's never in, lying about the pubs from morning to night, he's no better than a pig. (4). This shows that she kind of associates all Irish men as pigs. Then he waits for Mrs. Nugent and her son at a footbridge and tells her that he won't let her pass unless she pays him a shilling for what he calls the Pig Toll Tax. Later in the novel, Francie gets a job as a butcher boy. This is really interesting because his boss is impressed at how easily Francie can kill the pigs. I found this interesting because he kills pigs for a living, which also just so happens to be the animal he is associated with throughout the book. Finally, at the end of the book Francie ends up going to Mrs. Nugent's house years later and shoots her in the head, cuts her up with a knife, and writes the word pig on the wall of her house with her blood.

Search for Identity

It seems like, throughout the novel, Frankie has a hard time figuring out who he is and where he belongs. At first, he had a mom, a dad, and a best friend in Joe Purcell. By the end of the novel, he really has no one, which makes him search for a sense of belonging. His father died, his mom committed suicide, and Joe goes off to school and actually ends up becoming best friends with Phillip Nugent, the very kid they despised as children. At one point, he makes a list of immediate family and friends who he can no longer count on, which ends up being everyone he knows. I pulled at the grass along the edge of the bank and counted all the people that were gone on me now. 1. Da 2. Ma 3. Alo 4. Joe. When I said Joe's name all of a sudden I burst out laughing. For fuck's sake! I said, Joe's gone! How the fuck would Joe be gone! (174). Also, I thought that his role as a butcher boy killing pigs was touching on his search for identity, as well. The fact that he has been associated with pigs for all his life, yet his very profession was killing pigs. In this way, I think McCabe is metaphorically saying that Francie no longer knew who was on his side and who wasn't, and he didn't really have a group to fit in with.