Angela’s Ashes - Frank McCourt's Love/Hate Relationship with his Father
Angela’s Ashes is a memoir of Frank McCourt’s childhood and the
difficulties he faced whilst growing up. His family were very poor and
moved from America to Limerick to try and live an easier life. Frank’s
father was constantly out of a job and never had enough money to
support his family.
Frank and his father have a very interesting relationship. Throughout
the book, Frank constantly changes the way he feels for his father.
There are times when Frank completely despises him and others where he
idolises him. At the beginning of the book, Frank explains that
Malachy was “the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father,” giving the
reader a bad impression of him. As the story moves on, there are
several places where you can see that Frank loves his father, despite
all the hard times he has put him and his family through.
Malachy is constantly out of a job, leaving his family to survive on
their own through poverty. He uses every single penny they have at the
pubs; it drives Frank mad and he loses all respect for him. Frank
completely loathes his father when he upsets his mother. He makes her
angry which Frank cannot stand.
“My heart is banging away in my chest and I don’t know what to do
because I know I’m raging inside like my mother”.
Malachy comes home drunk so often; the three boys know exactly what’s
going on and what they have to do.
“We know Dad has done the bad thing and we know you can make anyone
suffer by not talking to him.
” Frank knew what his father deserved for making his mother unhappy
and didn’t hesitate to ignore him when he’d done the ‘bad thing’.
As they couldn’t rely on Malachy, Frank knew it was his job to bring
home the money himself and seemed to carry his family’s burdens on his
“I want to bring home the shilling. I want to be a man.”
He knows his mother is having a hard time and tries his best to do all
he can for her, “my mother wouldn’t have to be a beggar at the
Redemptorist priests’ house.”
When Frank loses his job, he is so upset thinking he has become as
useless as his father, “and I can’t stop crying now because this was
my one chance to be a man and bring home the money the telegram boy
never brought from my father.”
Throughout the book, Frank hints that he would have a different father
if he could. Malachy makes Frank furious, especially when he
disrespects Oliver’s coffin.
“I know that Eugene’s coffin because Oliver had one like it and I want
to cry when I see the black pints on top of it.”
Frank has so much rage for his father when he can’t be found, and has
been drinking, upsetting his mother, “O Jesus, I wish I had my
strength and I’d search every pub in Limerick. I’d tear the mouth out
of his head, so I would.” Frank is weak physically but strong
emotionally and is extremely dedicated to his family and his beliefs
unlike his father.
When Malachy was...