Shamie McCluskey works at the abattoir. His wife died years ago and since this time he lives alone with his son Cal. His other son died in a car crash.
Shamie always tries to replace Cal' s mother but he fails. Since Gracie died Shamie has a problem with love and sex. He never found another woman and when something to do with love-making comes on television he either leaves the room or hides behind his newspaper.
He is really stubborn because he wants to stay where he lived the last few years. But they are the only Catholic family there. It is very dangerous for them. They got two warning letters and so Sahmie took the gun which Crilly has offered to him. After their house had been burned down by some Protestant guys Sahmie can stay with a relative of him. But after some time he really gets depressed. He wants his house and his garden back. Shamie' s health gets worse but he doesn't want so see the doctor. He also refuses to go to work.
The relationship between Cal and his father was never good. They often quarrelled and from the age of fourteen onwards Cal had been constantly at war with Shamie. If Shamie didn't know how to solve a problem he always mentioned his wife and so he made Cal cry.
But now at the beginning of the book it seems that their relationship gets better.