Frank McCourt

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.