The narrative flashes back again. It is Eddie’s fifth birthday, and he is playing at his father’s feet while 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 year he has completed, while the other adult men laugh and cheer. Eddie doesn’t like being upside down, and afterward he clings to his mother as she takes him out for a walk along the pier until the “world feels right-side up again.”
This scene portends that even from the time Eddie is young, there are things in his world that are not right. Adult men form a threatening presence, and the social norm of teasing children allows the men to ignore Eddie’s feelings. Eddie’s mother takes the female role of comforter.