Frank McCourts Angelas Ashes
Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes is a powerful and emotional memoir of his life from childhood through early adulthood. This book is a wonderfully inspired piece of work that emotionally attaches the reader through McCourt’s life experiences. Its effectiveness is primarily due to McCourt’s evolving ‘innocent-eye’ narrative technique. He allows the reader to experience his own life in a changeable form. Through this unique story telling technique, the reader is able to watch Frank grow and evolve. Between the ages of four, eleven and fourteen changes in his writing can be easily identified. It is evident that the written text, McCourt’s thoughts, and the resultant relationship with the reader evolve and become more complex during this part of his life.
When describing his experiences at the age of four, McCourt's writing style is very much like a story told from a child’s perspective. He uses simple dialogue and a ‘tell it like it is’ approach: “We’re on the seesaw. Up, down, updown. Malachy goes up. I get off. Malachy goes down. Seesaw hits ground” (19). At this point, he demonstrated a basic, staccato-like sentence structure. McCourt presents information as if heard and interpreted by a child. On page38 Mrs. Leibowitz, a kind neighbour who lives in the same building as the McCourt family, says, “Nice Chewish name, have apiece of cake, eh? Why they give you a Chewish name, eh?” The reader knows that the word Jewish is spelled as it is heard and that this is typical of child interpretations.
Just as simple dialogue is used throughout the book, so are simple pattern thoughts. Children have a tangible stream of consciousness and often have a tendency to change subject matter quickly throughout a conversation: “They have their tea…uncle Pa Keating, who is my uncle because he’s married to my aunt Aggie, picks up Eugene” (87). The reader already knows from previous information that Pa Keating is the children’s uncle. Just as children often incorporate needless information into a conversation, McCourt does the same in his writing. The reader acquires an image that a real conversation is taking place.
Frank McCourt also shows the reader, through examples such as on page 16, that his thoughts as a child are quite simple. He tries to describe the anger he feels by stating “a blackness comes over me.” Because of his age, he is unable to clearly describe and fully express his thoughts. This is due to a lack of knowledge. He can only perceive what he knows to be familiar. For instance, he refers to his family standing in the kitchen as “big people” (106). He is easily confused and does not understand complex concepts: “…He can have Malachy and the twins for brothers. He can’t have Margaret anymore because she’s like the dog in the street that was taken away. I don’t know why she was taken away” (43). Concepts such as death and religion are especially difficult for a child to understand. “Mam tells us, That’s the...