Frank first developed a love of literature when he was confined to the hospital with typhoid. At that time, which is actually recounted in Chapter 8, he says,
"It's lovely to know the world can't interfere with the inside of your head".
During that first hospital stay, Frank is befriended by the janitor, Seamus, who cannot read but learns poems at the pub and memorizes them, then recites them for Frank so that he can enjoy them too. In Chapter 9, Frank, suffering from a severe case of conjuntivitis, is hospitalized again, and Seamus again recites poetry for him. Frank describes the joy that he and the other patients derive from Seamus' gift in a very long sentence,
"He stands in the aisle between the beds with his mop and his bucket and says the highwayman poem and all the patients stop their moaning and the nuns and nurses stand and listen and on and on goes Seamus till he comes to the end and everyone goes mad clapping and cheering him and he tells the world he loves that poem he'll have it in his head forever no matter where he goes and if it wasn't for Frankie McCourt and his typhoid there and poor Patricia Madigan with the dipteria that's gone God rest her he'd never know the poem and there I am famous in the eye ward of the City Home Hospital and all because of Seamus".
Angela suffers shame because of poverty and the irresponsibility of her husband. Some of the fathers of the desperately poor families living on the lane go to England to take jobs which are plentiful because of the war, but Malachi McCourt at first refuses, and just sits around the house while the family goes hungry. Young Frank finally shames his father into going to work in England like the others, but when he does, he sends no money home, spending it all on riotous living and carousing at the pubs instead. Angela is shamed because she cannot provide for her children, while their neighbors enjoy a prosperous time because of the money sent from England by their husbands. Rumors begin to circulate in the neighborhood about how Malachi is squandering the money he should be sending home to sustain his family. In utter desperation, Angela is finally forced to go on public assistance, where the official goes through great length to humiliate her entirely (Chapter 9).