Francie notices that her father is drinking more than usual. Francie dreads “the drinking periods” because Johnny is not the man she knows. He becomes very quiet and regards her as a stranger. When he stops drinking, he teaches his children things and works harder. He takes Francie and Neeley to wealthy Bushwick Avenue, for instance, and teaches them about the different parts of the automobiles that stream the boulevard. There are rumors, too, that the city’s next mayor will come from Bushwick Avenue.
Johnny wavers between wanting to be a good father, knowing that he owes his children his time and sobriety, and wanting to drink to forget about being so unhappy with the way that his life has turned out. He regards Francie as a stranger when he drinks because he feels that he is living someone else’s life; he has never adjusted to fatherhood.