Economic Discrimination in Frank McCourt's Angela’s Ashes

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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.

This makes their constant struggle to survive even harder and prevents them from climbing to the next rung in the social ladder. The poor are discriminated against and held down by the church, school, and their fellow impoverished neighbors, as well as the rest of the world around them to the point where they often give up trying to get out of poverty all together. Shockingly, the place where the McCourts are most discriminated against is the one place where they should feel wanted, loved, and equal to those around them, the Catholic Church. Frank McCourt, the main character who was a young teenager at the time, had the door slammed in his face by the Catholic Church on at least two occasions because of his poverty. The first time he is turned down by the church, Frank’s quest is to become an altar boy. The priest declares that the church is not looking for any more altar boys. However, the real reason Frank is turned down is because of his poverty. Angela, Frank’s mother, is infuriated and exclaims, “I’ll tell you what it is, ‘Tis class distinction. They don’t want boys from lanes on the altar. They don’t want the ones with scabby knees and hair sticking up. O...

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...d them to the point where they often give up trying to get out of poverty all together. The church will not allow them to be in any sort of position in the church, namely altar boys or priests. The school holds them back by putting them into filthy, run-down schools and teaching them very little while drilling into their minds the fact that no matter how hard they try, they cannot succeed in life. Unfortunately, even their neighbors hold them back by discouraging them to try anything in order to succeed and making fun of their impoverishment.

The discrimination that they face daily holds them back and eventually stops them from even trying to succeed and better their lives. As Jerome K. Jerome once explained, the poor will be discriminated against, snubbed and despised the world over.


McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes. New York: Touchstone, 1999.

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