On the day of Frank's Confirmation, he is suddenly struck with an unstoppable nosebleed and falls terribly ill. Within a few days, a doctor diagnoses him with typhoid fever, and Frank goes to the hospital to receive treatment. Although Frank nears death during this time, he manages to survive.
During his recovery period, Frank meets Patricia Madigan, a girl dying of diphtheria. Patricia lends Frank a book, introducing him to the work of William Shakespeare and Alfred Noyes. This is a formative moment for Frank, as it teaches him of the possibility of beauty in written language.
Although Patricia tragically dies shortly thereafter, Frank spends the rest of his time at the hospital voraciously reading. This marks the beginning of Frank's life as a lover of literature and, much later, as a remarkable author.
Frankie ends up in the hospital because he contracts Typhoid Fever. It is in the hospital where he is first exposed to great literature--in fact, it is where he first learns about Shakespeare. He also discovers poetry at this time, and reading these pieces of literature sparks his love of reading and eventually his love of writing. Also, he meets Patricia Madigan and encounters, for the first time, a close relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Both of these experiences help Frankie evolve into Frank McCourt, author.