In this novel, the main character, Frank McCourt himself, has struggles trying to grow up in the society of Ireland. This is a first hand experience of his problems as a young boy. He is seen to be a smart, streetwise boy. He starts of looking at his problems and wanting a way out. He sees his fathers drinking as a cause of the irresponsibility of the family. He worries about his own fate and wonders if he is going to make it to see better days. He wants a way out and as he grows, he determines that America is the best place for him to be a successful person.
He starts to feel guilty for the situation that his family is in. He worries that the sins he is committing will doom him and the people he loves, such as stealing a penny and saying a curse word. He soon learns to escape his fears by daydreaming and reading books. He also finds a joy in the radio and the movies he watches. Frank decides himself to the fact that in order to reach America, he will have to take risks, pass up safe jobs, and begin writing threatening letters for Mrs.
Finucane and delivering newspapers. He soon leaves school at fourteen to go to get a job. He is then seen to be the father of the household because his real father is not taking responsibility. He soon gets a priest to rid him of his sins and Frank then decides he can leave for America with a clear mind. He soon earns enough money to leave to America and finally says goodbye to the land that he felt hurt him. He then stands on the deck looking at American lights and thinks its beautiful.