Essay, Research Paper: Angela's Ashes

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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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