Analysis of Angela's Ashes Narrated by Frank McCourt
Angela's Ashes: A Memoir is Frank McCourt's acclaimed memoir. It charts the author's childhood from his infant years in Brooklyn, through his impoverished adolescence in Limerick, Ireland, to his return to America at the age of nineteen. First published in 1996, McCourt's memoir won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in the category of best Biography/Autobiography, and has gone on to become a worldwide bestseller.
McCourt, who for many years taught writing in a New York public high school, waited for over forty years to write about his troubled youth. Arguably, waiting for years before writing his autobiography allowed Frank McCourt to talk about his childhood in the most objective way possible. McCourt treats the subject of his own difficult life with even-handedness and objectivity.
McCourt never downplays the fact that he suffered from acute hunger and deprivation in his youth. He once described this autobiography as "an epic of woe." Nothing about the author's boyhood was easy. But Frank's world is not one of self-pity. Although the protagonist endures a troubled upbringing, it is one that instills in him strong moral values and a healthy sense of humor. McCourt's prose style is ambitious in its scope, yet detailed in his focus; it is prosaic in order to capture everyday life, but poetic in order to evoke a homeland.
McCourt wrote a sequel to Angela's Ashes entitled 'Tis, which describes his experiences as a young man in America. A film version of Angela's Ashes was made in 1999.
The narrator, Frank McCourt, describes how his parents meet in Brooklyn, New York. After his mother, Angela becomes pregnant with Frank, she marries Malachy, the father of her child. The family grows, and Angela struggles to feed her growing family of sons while Malachy spends his wages on drink. Frank's much-loved baby sister Margaret dies, and Angela becomes depressed. The McCourts decide to return to Ireland.
In Ireland, more troubles plague the McCourts. Angela has a miscarriage, Frank's two younger brothers die, and Malachy constantly drinks away the dole money.
McCourt's childhood is characterized not only as a time of great deprivation, but as a time of good humor and adventure. When the first floor of the house floods during the winter, Angela and Malachy announce that the family will leave the cold damp of the first floor, which they call "Ireland," and move to the warm, cozy second floor, which they call "Italy." Although Malachy's alcoholism uses up all of the money for food, he earns Frank's love and affection by entertaining him with stories about great Irish heroes and the people who live in their lane.
Over the course of a few years, Angela gives birth to two sons, Michael and Alphonsus, or "Alphie" for short.
As Frank grows older, the narration increasingly focuses on his exploits at school. When Frank turns ten, he is Confirmed. Right after his Confirmation, he falls ill with...