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In Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes, the connection between tone, syntax, and point of view combine to create an effective balance of humor and pathos. This is shown through the perspective of little Frank McCourt. Sometimes it is human nature to try to make a tragedy seem better than it is in order to go on with our lives. Frank’s struggle to make his situation as a poor, Catholic, Irish boy more bearable, is demonstrated through the positive tone, powerful syntax and childlike point of view.
Humor and pathos come together when Frank steals bananas from the Italian, but later the same Italian gives him a bag of fruit. Frank knows that he can’t buy the bananas and he knows also the Italian won’t give them away seen when Frank says; “ Italians are not known for giving away bananas” (p.35). We can see the humor in the theft as the “ twins slobber and chew and spread bananas over their faces, their hair, their clothes” (p.36). The tragedy is that the McCourt kids are poor and have to resort to begging and stealing to survive. When the author uses such words such as “slobber” (p.36), “little buddas” (p.36), he is trying to make an intolerable situation more bearable and enjoyable to the reader.
When the McCourts are at their new home, two weeks before Christmas, the children come home and find the whole downstairs flooded. They decide that they will stay up stairs, which they call “Italy” (p.118), and the downstairs “Ireland” (p.118). The humor in this tragedy is the house is so run down that water leaks in and floods the bottom. Instead of suffering and complaining about the house they move upstairs and make the best out of it and try to live normally. The reader should find this funny from the way the family talks about it, they try to make the situation more bearable by adding a sense of humor. They leave the “Pope” (p.118) downstairs because Angela doesn’t “ want him on the wall glaring at me in the bed” (p.118). The syntax used is to make the reader feel pity for the family when the whole downstairs is flooded but also the author wants to make the reader laugh when the family decides to lighten the situation by creating an adventurous illusion.
One of the funnier moments is the scene where Frank pukes up the host and his Grandmother says she “ has God in her backyard” (p.
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In conclusion, humor is used to ease the pain of an extreme situation. This memoir uses humor a lot to release the anguish of growing up like Frank McCourt did. Franks lived through the hardships of growing up a poor, Catholic, Irish boy in the times of the great depression, and he wants the reader not to feel so bad by adding a sense of humanity to the story. So he uses the powerful syntax, positive tone, and a childlike point of view to make the memoir a better but serious truth to it.