Essay PreviewMore ↓
"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." Thus begins the highly celebrated memoir by the name of Angela's Ashes, written by Frank McCourt. In this book Frank McCourt writes about his childhood, how his parents meet in New York and then decide to return to Ireland. He describes what it is like to be at the bottom of that city's tough social hierarchy, giving vivid descriptions of how class imposes severe limitations and restrictions. It is this topic, this theme, to which I will be giving the most attention.
Angela's Ashes is an autobiographical work of fiction, leading the reader to make the assumption that one is reading about things that have actually taken place. Thus it is rather pointless to be making comparisons between the actual story and the life of Frank McCourt.
As has been mentioned, the McCourt family moved from New York to Ireland. This happened while Frank himself had only reached the age of four. Though the McCourts had hoped to achieve a better way of living by returning to their native country, this did not happen. As a matter of fact, life became even more difficult. Frank's father Malachy is shunned by other Irish Catholics, due to the fact that he was not born in the south of Ireland, but was born in the northern counties. Also considering that Malachy, not long after having set foot on Irish soil, returns to his old habit of drowning his misery in alcohol, one might doubt as to whether this family has any chance whatsoever at creating a better life.
As Frank grows older he is met by the Irish society's distain for the lower classes. People are not willing to give Frank the same opportunity as more socially favoured children. Not having gained the obligatory introduction to Irish Catholism, due to his having lived his first four years in the States, does not help matters. As a result, Frank's attempts at climbing the social ladder are thwarted time and time again. Even though Frank shows promise at school, showing a quick mind and naturally reaching for more demanding literature, he is denied the opportunity to become an altar boy.
How to Cite this Page
"Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt." 123HelpMe.com. 19 May 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt "When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." Thus begins the highly celebrated memoir by the name of Angela's Ashes, written by Frank McCourt. In this book Frank McCourt writes about his childhood, how his parents meet in New York and then decide to return to Ireland.... [tags: Frank McCourt Angela's Ashes]
958 words (2.7 pages)
- Frank McCourt’s memoir, Angela’s Ashes, reflects on the struggles and poverty stricken life he and his family faced in Limerick, Ireland. I have also felt the struggles of living in poverty, but not as harsh as Frank and his family experienced. Family issues and hardships can sometimes leave a positive or negative effect on rising adults within their lifetime, causing detrimental and lifetime damage. During the year of 2007, my family and I faced the hardest moments of our life. We just moved from Virginia to a small town apartment in Kingstree, South Carolina, with barley any money or income to start our new lives.... [tags: Family, Mother, Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes]
1180 words (3.4 pages)
- The Sadness of Poverty in Frank McCourt's Angela’s Ashes “It is not the rich man you should properly call happy, but him who knows how to use with wisdom the blessings of the gods, to endure hard poverty, and who fears dishonor worse than death, and is not afraid to die for cherished friends or fatherland.” In the novel Angela's Ashes, (1996) by Frank McCourt, a life of poverty is the only life this family knows. It is a memoir about a young boy born in New York City. Frank, born ten months prior to his brother Malachy, was raised in a small apartment with his parents, Angela and Malachy McCourt.... [tags: Frank McCourt Angela’s Ashes]
1361 words (3.9 pages)
- Analysis of Angela's Ashes Narrated by Frank McCourt Angela's Ashes: A Memoir is Frank McCourt's acclaimed memoir. It charts the author's childhood from his infant years in Brooklyn, through his impoverished adolescence in Limerick, Ireland, to his return to America at the age of nineteen. First published in 1996, McCourt's memoir won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in the category of best Biography/Autobiography, and has gone on to become a worldwide bestseller. McCourt, who for many years taught writing in a New York public high school, waited for over forty years to write about his troubled youth.... [tags: Angela's Ashes Memoirs Frank McCourt Essays]
4634 words (13.2 pages)
- The quests for gold at the end of the rainbow, the hopes of thousands to one day live the fabled American Dream. Worldwide, everyone who is capable looks for their chance to strike it rich. Some of the most successful people today, such as Apple’s Steve Jobs and OK. Magazine’s Richard Desmond, have risen from tough backgrounds (Serafina). Growing up in abject poverty, these individuals found ways to push past the glass ceiling in their respective fields. Interestingly, many of them share similar obstacles on their way to the top.... [tags: characters, Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt, Glass C]
2023 words (5.8 pages)
- Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes This book is about a boy, Frank McCourt, growing up in a very difficult lifestyle. He and his family were very poor and moved away from America to Limerick to try and live an easier life. Frank's father is constantly out of a job and hasn't got enough money to support his family. Frank and his father have a very interesting relationship. Throughout the book, there are constant changes of how Frank feels for his father. At the very beginning of the book, Frank explains that he was "the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father," and gives the reader the impression that he was a very bad dad.... [tags: Papers]
551 words (1.6 pages)
- Many people believe that the importance of family is crucial. The memoir Angela’s Ashes is written by Frank McCourt. It examines the poor upbringing and the relationships within the McCourt family during the 1930’s. Through the use of descriptive language, dialogue and characterisation, it supports and opposes various values including the importance of family and the impact it has on the relationships enclosed in the memoir. Family should be of the upmost importance. Through the use of characterisation Frank McCourt questions the significance of his family unit through the use of his selfish actions.... [tags: poverty, egocentric, memoir]
559 words (1.6 pages)
- Economic Discrimination in Frank McCourt's Angela’s Ashes As Jerome K. Jerome once said, “It is easy enough to say that poverty is no crime. No; if it were men wouldn’t be ashamed of it. It is a blunder, though, and is punished as such. A poor man is despised the whole world over.” This famous quote describes the way poor people are discriminated against and despised around the world by those who are better off. In the novel Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt, the characters are greatly discriminated against by all different parts of society because of their poverty.... [tags: Angela Ashes Essays]
1414 words (4 pages)
- Angela’s Ashes - Frank McCourt's Love/Hate Relationship with his Father Angela’s Ashes is a memoir of Frank McCourt’s childhood and the difficulties he faced whilst growing up. His family were very poor and moved from America to Limerick to try and live an easier life. Frank’s father was constantly out of a job and never had enough money to support his family. Frank and his father have a very interesting relationship. Throughout the book, Frank constantly changes the way he feels for his father.... [tags: Angela’s Ashes]
1439 words (4.1 pages)
- Book Review Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt I read the book Angela's Ashes and I was truly amazed that it was true. I love reading about the old days and this is a book about Frank McCourt (the author) misfortunes during his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. It is sad at times and you can’t think "this is only a book" but still the best read in a long time. Angela's Ashes is written from the perspective of Angela's first-born son, Francis McCourt, the author of the novel. Angela and her husband, Malachy, are both born and raised in Ireland and emmigrate to America where they meet and marry.... [tags: English Literature]
506 words (1.4 pages)
It is important to understand how deeply rooted the class system in Great Britain including Ireland, was in the beginning of the 20th century. In modern Europe it is difficult to identify the classes that, during the first half of the century, were extremely socially significant. It is also difficult to comprehend the extreme poverty of the Depression years. There was no unemployment insurance, no health insurance and there were no safety nets for the poor. They were left to their own devices. Their source of protection from abject poverty and starvation was primarily the church. Otherwise the poor were left at the mercy of friends and family, and on a daily basis had to swallow their pride. With regard to getting out of this vicious cycle of poverty and starvation, again it was the church that had the primary responsibility for and control over education. As has been noted Frank's attempts at becoming a part of the social and religious system that could take him out of poverty were disrupted by that same system.
Frank's struggle for acceptance and participation in the higher social groups is essential for an analytical understanding of Angela's Ashes. This trait, the will to continue even though it all seems futile, characterises Frank. He is always trying to make the best out of a situation, with the gleaming light of hope, the return to the Unites States, as the treasure at the end of the road. Frank is apparently determined to prove that he is worth people's respect and succeeds by getting himself away from Ireland and over to the land of hopes and dreams. It is important to note that Frank sees America as an idealistic country where class distinction is a thing of the past. In reality, class distinctions existed there as well, if not as profoundly and with such historical foundation as in Old Europe. Frank's vision of America becomes even more apparent at the end of the book: "I'm on deck the dawn we sail into New York. I'm sure I'm in a film, that it will end and lights will come up in the Lyric Cinema [...] Rich Americans in top hats white ties and tails must be going home to bed with the gorgeous women with white teeth. The rest are going to work in warm comfortable offices and no one has a care in the world." With this observation Frank reveals the image he has kept so close to his heart all this time. He sees America as a classless society, ready to reward him for his talents and ambitions rather than upbringing.
Angela's Ashes is a story about a boy who made a leap for a better way of living. But the message that comes across in the end one has the impression that it is all left up to faith. Thousands of Irish died from starvation and sickness in Ireland, and thousands of Irish didn't enhance their lifestyle in the country of countless possibilities. When Frank arrived at the end of the book in New York in search of an idealistic dream he shared with so many other immigrants, one is left to wonder, what made his dream any more realistic than others?