"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable child hood: 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", writes Frank McCourt of his early life. Although Frank McCourt's autobiography, Angela's Ashes, paints a picture of both terrible poverty and struggles, this text is appealing and up lifting because of its focus on both humor and hope. McCourt's text shows the determination people living in dreadful conditions must have in order to rise above their situations and make better lives for themselves and their families. The effect of the story, although often distressing and sad, is not depressing. Frank as the young narrator describes his life events without bitterness, anger, or blame. Poverty and hardship are treated simply as if they are a fact of life, and in spite of the hard circumstances, many episodes during the novel are hilarious.
Informal Essay on Angela’s Ashes
Angela’s Ashes is a moving book full of poverty, suffering, and death that shows that no matter how difficult things seem, the hard tines can always be overcome. Angela and Malachy McCourt, both Irish, were married in America after a passionate night together that ended up producing their first son, Francis(or Frank as introduced to the reader). Later, the couple had another son, twins, and a daughter while living in a small apartment in New York. Margaret soon died and the family moved to Ireland where their lives were only worsened. Angela had two more children that lived, but the young twins died.
A collection of short stories published in 1907, Dubliners, by James Joyce, revolves around the everyday lives of ordinary citizens in Dublin, Ireland (Freidrich 166). According to Joyce himself, his intention was to "write a chapter of the moral history of [his] country and [he] chose Dublin for the scene because the city seemed to [b]e the centre of paralysis" (Friedrich 166). True to his goal, each of the fifteen stories are tales of disappointment, darkness, captivity, frustration, and flaw. The book is divided into four sections: childhood, adolescence, maturity, and public life (Levin 159). The structure of the book shows that gradually, citizens become trapped in Dublin society (Stone 140). The stories portray Joyce's feeling that Dublin is the epitome of paralysis and all of the citizens are victims (Levin 159). Although each story from Dubliners is a unique and separate depiction, they all have similarities with each other. In addition, because the first three stories -- The Sisters, An Encounter, and Araby parallel each other in many ways, they can be seen as a set in and of themselves. The purpose of this essay is to explore one particular similarity in order to prove that the childhood stories can be seen as specific section of Dubliners. By examining the characters of Father Flynn in The Sisters, Father Butler in An Encounter, and Mangan's sister in Araby, I will demonstrate that the idea of being held captive by religion is felt by the protagonist of each story. In this paper, I argue that because religion played such a significant role in the lives of the middle class, it was something that many citizens felt was suffocating and from which it was impossible to get away. Each of the three childhood stories uses religion to keep the protagonist captive. In The Sisters, Father Flynn plays an important role in making the narrator feel like a prisoner. Mr. Cotter's comment that "… a young lad [should] run about and play with young lads of his own age…" suggests that the narrator has spent a great deal of time with the priest. Even in death, the boy can not free himself from the presence of Father Flynn (Stone 169) as is illustrated in the following passage: "But the grey face still followed me. It murmured; and I understood that it desired to confess something.
... It is estimated over these five horrifying years, that around two million Irish died. One million deaths are attributed to starvation while another million is attributed to immigration and sickness. It has taken many years for the Irish to recover the loss of 25% of their population, many of these deaths being children and the elderly. This led to an immense age gap in the general population. The Irish have also been to slow to recover from the emotional and political toll that the famine had on Ireland’s people. To remember and learn from past mistakes, the Irish built an Irish Potato Famine Memorial in Dublin. It has grotesque statues of starving people walking down the Custom House Quay carrying what little belongings they had left. This is a haunting reminder of what hunger and greed can do to a country and how it’s influence can spread across the entire world.
McCann depicted Ireland’s effects of poverty very thoroughly, which took place in the late 1840s. Throughout the second chapter of “Transatlantic”, we are faced with scenes that depict the horrible living conditions Ireland had to deal with due to the lack of food and money. The Irish had suffered from much famine because of this. One scene from the novel that showed light on the problem was when the main character, Frederick Douglass, was getting a tour of the streets of Ireland. The streets started out clean and leisurely but as they traveled further, the potholes deepened and soon the staggering filth had presented itself. There were piles of human waste flushed down the gutters. In one particular moment in the book, Douglas had witnessed a tribe of boys in rags who jumped onto the side of the carriage and specifically one boy had raw welts running along his neck and face. They were begging for money so they could eat something that day. Webb, the man in charge of Douglass, told him to mind his pockets when Douglas gave the kid a penny. The fact that these kids were living in t...
The autobiography Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt tells the life of the McCourt family while living in poverty in Limmerick, Ireland during the 30’s and 40’s. Frank McCourt relates his difficult childhood to the reader up to the time he leaves for America at age nineteen. The book has many prevailing themes, but one of the most notable is the settings relationship to the family. The setting of the book ultimately influences the choices and lifestyle of the McCourt family in many ways.
The disaster of the Famine radicalized a generation of mainly catholic young men of modest social origin, some of whom eventually succeed in assembling an almost open and extremely widespread conspiracy to subvert British rule in Ireland (Gavin 471)
Included within the anthology The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction,1 are the works of great Irish authors written from around three hundred years ago, until as recently as the last decade. Since one might expect to find in an anthology such as this only expressions and interpretations of Irish or European places, events or peoples, some included material could be quite surprising in its contrasting content. One such inclusion comes from the novel Black Robe,2 by Irish-born author Brian Moore. Leaving Ireland as a young man afforded Moore a chance to see a great deal of the world and in reflection afforded him a great diversity of setting and theme in his writings. And while his Black Robe may express little of Ireland itself, it expresses much of Moore in his exploration into evolving concepts of morality, faith, righteousness and the ever-changing human heart.
There is particular consideration given to the political climate in this story. It is incorporated with social and ethnic concerns that are prevalent. The story also addresses prejudice and the theme of ethnic stereotyping through his character development. O'Connor does not present a work that is riddled with Irish slurs or ethnic approximations. Instead, he attempts to provide an account that is both informative and accurate.
There is a famous 1961 film called West Side Story. In this film the “Sharks”, who are Puerto Rican immigrants battle the “Jets”, who are New Yorkers, for claim of New York City. Often erupting into violence, these two different culture groups despise each other simply because of the ignorance both have experienced. Through the rubble a love story emerges and eventually put aside their differences. This is however after several knife attacks, gunshots fired, deaths, and a hate filled mamba dance routine. Stories such as this about cultural differences are ones that one would think are far in the past. That as a society, we have moved past the differences accepting and embracing the differences that make each individual unique. But this is not the case, especially not in Northern Ireland during the 1960s till the 1980s. In Ireland, especially in Northern Ireland, religion has been the main divider between the Irish. The Catholics and Protestants have become forms of ethnicity in which the natives identify with. In John Conroy’s book, Belfast Diary, one sees an American journalist’s perspective on the conflict which hinders Ireland. The “democratic system” that was in place created an unstable power struggle only lending more fuel to the fire between these two groups. Strong examples of the unbalanced system are seen as John Conroy gives the reader access to his experience of “the Troubles” of Northern Ireland.