Michael Cunningham 's White Angel Essays

Michael Cunningham 's White Angel Essays

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Michael Cunningham’s “White Angel” is not merely a story about two boys growing up in a small town in Ohio in the 1960s. This is a story about the shattered innocence of America through historical events in their era, such as, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Vietnam War. The narrator of this story is nine year old boy, Bobby or “Frisco,” who symbolizes the somber reality of the history of this decade. The narrator’s point of view is strong, Frisco believes his own voice is weak and un-wise, however he shows great bravery, humility and control throughout this piece. Frisco takes risks, although they are thoughtfully calculated. He views the world with great admiration through his older, sixteen year old brother Carlton; yet is still analytical over the choices Carlton makes before his untimely death. In this piece, Carlton symbolizes the wild and free innocence of America in the 1950s. Carlton constantly takes great risks while never considering the consequences of his actions. Similar to the nation they come from, uninhibited America in the 1950s, never suspected the tempestuous historical events of the 1960s.
Frisco is, as Cunningham describes, a very criminally advanced nine year old boy (Cunningham 230). Consequently, he shadows Carlton through nefarious endeavors, such as experimenting with drugs, the promise of sex, and promiscuous music. The boys come from an unintended suburban family, the Morrows. A widowed mother from a previous marriage, and a father who is more interested in assembling a grandfather clock to leave his sons as a family heirloom, rather than spending time with his family (Cunningham 231). This clock comes from a kit and is a symbol of his investment in their ...

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...or. Their naïve mentalities led to the untimely death of a sixteen year old boy. America relates as a naïve nation before the tragic events of the 1960s, blinded by good fortune, few suspected that anything could shatter their lives.
With respect to the tragedy: “He is buried in the cemetery out back” (Cunningham 242). Carlton’s body remains at the site of the accident, as do their mother’s wails, and the party goers’ innocence. America was never the same after experiencing the heartrending events of the 1960s. A nation whose innocence always remained in the 1950s, covered up with poodle skirts and love songs. America wailed as Kennedy was assassinated, the Civil Rights Act led to grave brutality and tens of thousands of people lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Although a family or a nation may recover, no one ever forgets, and the tragedy will always remain.

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