The Five People You Meet in Heaven

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Mickey Shea Character Analysis

An alcoholic Irishman, the longtime close friend of Eddies’ mother and father. Mickey is impulsive, festive, and lonely. Mickey helps Eddie’s father get his job at Ruby Pier, and when Eddie is born, he gives his parents money for their financial struggles. He is affectionate with Eddie, though often too rough. Mickey’s lowest point is when he loses his job, gets drunk, and tries to rape Eddie’s mother. Eddie’s father chases him down to kill him, but when he sees Mickey falling into the ocean and drowning, he saves him instead. Mickey dies alone and drunk, overwhelmed by guilt for his actions.

Mickey Shea Quotes in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The The Five People You Meet in Heaven quotes below are all either spoken by Mickey Shea or refer to Mickey Shea. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Hachette Books edition of The Five People You Meet in Heaven published in 2006.
Chapter 24 Quotes

Religion? Government? Are we not loyal to such things, sometimes to the death? (…) Better to be loyal to one another.

Related Characters: Ruby (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Father, Mickey Shea
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage (one of the most controversial in the novel), Ruby--the next person Eddie meets in Heaven--tells Eddie about how Eddie's father died. Eddie's father went out to save his old friend, Mickey Shea, from drowning, and as a result, Eddie's father himself died of pneumonia.

Eddie is astounded that his father would have risked his life for the sake of something as abstract as loyalty to a friend--especially because, as Ruby has told him, Mickey had just tried to rape Eddie's own mother. And yet Ruby argues that loyalty to one's friends is something well worth dying for--far more valuable than religion or government. The passage supports Albom's notion that the only "true" religion is a religion of humanity, based on the idea that all people are connected. Abstract religious or political principles are never as important as our relationships with living, breathing people. (Of course, this lesson also comes in the context of a very religious, supernatural "Heaven.")

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Mickey Shea Character Timeline in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the character Mickey Shea appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...his father plays a game of cards. In what he describes as an Irish tradition, Mickey Shea joyfully picks Eddie up by his feet and shakes him out once for each... (full context)
Chapter 13
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...one night, not long before shipping out, Eddie is at the arcade range practicing shooting. Mickey Shea appears, and drunkenly warns Eddie that if he needs to shoot, “You fire and... (full context)
Chapter 19
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...Veteran Affairs hospital, after being returned home from war. His mother, father, brother, Marguerite, and Mickey Shea come into his room with a cake, singing “Happy Birthday.” Eddie wakes up to... (full context)
Chapter 24
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...he seemed. Ruby brings Eddie to a scene from the past. On a storming night, Mickey Shea is drunk and sobbing in the kitchen, and Eddie’s mother tends to him. Mickey... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...Eddie’s father died from the pneumonia he caught on the beach the night he saved Mickey Shea. Eddie is shocked to learn about Mickey’s attempt to rape his mother, and angrily... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Cycle of Life and Death Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...they were nowhere near, he called out the names of his wife, his sons, and Mickey. Then he died. (full context)