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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. Malachy was an alcoholic who rarely held a job and spent his wages at the pub instead of on his family. They were forced to beg for food and other necessities because relatives were cruel and selfish. This novel tells the tell of young Frank having to endure extreme poverty, starvation, and a broken family with strength and courage. He eventually raises enough money to go to America and break free from his depressing childhood.
In my opinion, the theme of this book is that no matter how bad things seem to be, anyone can survive and become successful through perseverance and determination. For example, Frank grew up in just about the worst environment possible but was determined enough to get himself to America and eventually become the author of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel! Frank achieved his goals by taking any extra jobs that he could find and saving every penny possible until he could finally afford his passage to America. Because his father never brought home any money, Frank supported the family with what little wages he earned at his job and was determined to make a good life for himself, his brothers, and his poor mother. Frank learned to depend upon no one but himself and his determination to succeed won him a new life in America where he now lives happily married.
I noticed numerous literary devices present throughout the book. One such device is the use of apostrophe. Apostrophe is used continuously when Frank speaks to the angel on the seventh step and also when he and his parents speak to the dead children such as Eugene, Oliver, and Margaret. The story is told from the point of view of Frank as he grows from a young boy of about three or four to a young man at nineteen. This point of view is especially effective because it shows how he feels about his experiences as he ages and how he felt at that exact time. His views change as he grows and his naivete vanishes. He becomes a stronger, smarter person with the reader following along. I also noticed frequent use of imagery. Frank describes his eyes when they are infected with “red and yellow oozing” out of them. Vivid images are also used to describe the putrid smells in their house next to the lavatory that was used by the entire street to empty their chamber pots. McCourt also chooses to write very often in the diction of the old Irish language. This word choice adds to the mood of the book and attempts to bring the reader into Ireland. The book is also packed with humor. For instance, when the boys were playing outside, McCourt said that the women stand because “all they do is take care of the children, clean the house, and cook” but the men sit because the spend their time “discussing the problems of the world and wondering what to do with the rest of the day”(107). This is a humorous, almost satirical look at the traditional male-female roles in a family. Humor is also used while Frank waits for the angel on the seventh step and his naivete as a young boy. McCourt’s novel is filled with wonderful, descriptive images that help to shape his fascinating tale from poverty to success.
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Malachy McCourt, McCourt, Apostrophe, Limerick, Angelas Ashes, Tis
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