Mary tries to influence her father into working as well, even though she is on strike. This is a hypocritical action, making it seem like she wants her family to earn money on her behalf. Mary is upwardly mobile, but too idealistic and naïve to escape her poverty.
Contrastingly Johnny is unable to work and spends most of his time at home being terrified. Johnny’s lack of education as a result of his poverty could have led him to being involved with terrorism at a young age.
At one point Johnny complains that “Oul’ Simon Mackay is thrampin’ about like a horse over me head”, emphasising that he is unhappy about his cramped living conditions but unlike Mary he makes no attempt to leave the environment he was raised in. The simile “like a horse” shows us how sever the poverty is. Johnny can not only hear the noise, he can also feel the reverberations in the room.
Johnny blames Mary for shaming them and keeping them in poverty, even though his own medical expenses would have put great financial strain on the Boyle family. When the Boyles hear about the inheritance Johnny shows no particular interest because he is too wrapped up in his own affairs. He says “Tisn’t gramophones I’m thinking of” when he sees the new purchase, so his mind is obviously preoccupied with things more important to him than escaping poverty.
Johnny would much rather blame others for his poverty than make any active attempts to escape it himself. This is very similar to Boyle’s approach to poverty.
Boyle simply doesn’t try to escape poverty. He has a negative financial effect on the family because he is not bringing in money, yet he is the biggest spender. O’Casey presents him as a work-shy character, an example of which is when Juno tells him “You could do more work with a knife and fork than ever you could with a shovel”. This presents Boyle as an almost child-like figure – he just eats, sleeps and does nothing productive to escape his poverty.
It is the same when Juno states that “It’d be easier to dhrive you out of the house than dhrive you into a job”. The repeated use of the verb “dhrive” conveys that whatever Boyle does he must be forced by Juno to do it. Boyle just drinks his troubles into submission rather than actively changing the situation. He doesn’t approve of Mary’s attempts to better herself and is generally pessimistic about everything, proven by his final, drunken line: “The whole worl’s… in a terr… ible state o’… chassis”. If he ever had any hope in escaping poverty he lost it long ago.
Juno accepts her situation and doesn’t make any attempt to change it. She just picks up the pieces after Mary and Johnny’s attempts. She focuses on coping ad making the best of what she has. She complains to the rest of her family but never gets any sympathy. She says “Amn’t I nicely handicapped with the whole of yous”, showing that her responsibility to carry her family is a hindrance to her life. If she had never married Boyle she would probably be better off.
She is the only one in the family currently at work. She has to put a lot of effort in to support the three unemployed members of her family, and it takes a toll on her. We see this when she complains that “I’m killin’ meself working”. The poverty is as hard on her as it is to the rest of her family. She has accepted that she will always be working class and makes no attempt to escape what she has decided is her fate in life.
She makes a key mistake when she trusts Boyle with the finances after they hear about the inheritance. When everything collapses she realises that nothing more can be done and she leaves with Mary, saying “I’ve done all I could an’ it was all no use”. Despite this Juno is determined to continue working for the sake of herself, Mary and the baby, emphasised when she states “Then we’ll work together for the sake of the baby”. Juno may never be able to move her family up the social ladder, but she will always work for the sake of others.
To conclude, Mary is the only member of the Boyle family that actively tries to escape poverty. O’Casey presents the readers with four very different ways of dealing with poverty through the Boyle family, one of which is escapism.