Survival factors in Frank McCourt´s Angela´s Ashes

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Sure, isn't this the lavatory for the whole lane It gets very powerful here in the warm weather Mam says These houses were built in the time of Queen Victoria and if this lavatory was ever cleaned it must have been done McCourt explodes the myth, if anyone ever took it seriously, that a lack of material goods and comforts is somehow a blessing. There is no doubt that Frank McCourt's brothers and sister would have survived if not for the terrible conditions they endured.

If there is one statement to be derived from Angela's Ashes, it would be that the terrible price of poverty is a price no one should have to pay, and that everyone has a right to an adequate minimum standard of living. Poverty also produces desperate measures - begging, stealing, and the urge to escape no matter what. McCourt tells us about he steals from the doorsteps of the rich in order to feed his family, he does not appear proud of the fact, and does not invite the reader to feel sorry for him, but we cannot shake off the reality that if he had not have done this, he and his brothers would have probably starved to death.

Many of the characters in this book show no sign of wanting to help themselves - their sense of being fated by an unkind universe compels a desperate inactivity.

"Survival factors" in Frank McCourt´s "Angela´s Ashes"

Frank's chronic alcoholic father Malachy is just one of many who are driven to the temporary relief and escapism that comes with the drink, only afterwards realising that the money to feed the family has now gone. Poverty, as sociologists tell us, is often self-perpetuating and vice-like in its grip on those unfortunate enough to be caught in it.

There are, of course people in Limerick who are better off than the McCourts. There are boys who go to secondary school and college, the privileged few who become altar boys, and families who "go to the Savoy Cinema where there's a better class of people eating boxes of chocolates and covering their mouths when they laugh". As time passes, other families in the lanes become reasonably well off, while the McCourts, with no working father to support them, remain the poorest of the poor, and Angela is forced to beg for food, shaming the family and her children; Frank is taunted at school for being the son of a 'beggar woman'.

Class is obviously important in Ireland.


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People know their station and their expectations of life are shaped accordingly, and there are almost no opportunities to move upwards into another class. Dialect and behaviours were such strong markers that one's class was obvious, and attempts to move up would be blocked. People were expected to 'know their place'; one of the reasons Frank goes to America is because there, hard work and intelligence were more likely to be rewarded, but also because it was his only chance of getting a sound education.

Frank is told by his schoolmaster that he is capable of going to university, but the Christian Brothers, who run the secondary school, slam the door in his face. Even more appallingly, is the way that the Church seems to support this system, not accepting Frank as an altar boy, even though he has learned all the Latin, and then not accepting him into the school, even though he has the intelligence to study at college and get a well paid job.

Although not an obvious theme in the book, education is an important factor in Frank McCourt's life. The need for a good education, and the importance of education in allowing a person to realise his or her own potential, is subtly underlined at several stages in the book.

Frank was lucky; a vital influence on a child's ability and development is to have a good teacher, who will encourage the child to expand his or her thoughts and ideas. The concept of children asking questions in order to learn had not yet been conceived. This book is set in the 's, a time when children were still expected to be 'seen and not heard'.

The teaching model was one of instruction by a master and the child learning to repeat what he was told, and not to ask questions about it.

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Essay Topics Angela

Whether or not the child understood what was being said was irrelevant. McCourt recalls a boy nicknamed 'Question Quigley', who was known for asking difficult but nevertheless intelligent questions, and was duly reprimanded for doing so. In his last year of school, Frank gets a teacher who encourages pupils to ask questions, thus expanding his knowledge of the world around him, and so he begins to dream of finding another life based on the skills he has mastered.

Angela's Ashes is not a direct argument for a good education, but the issue does emerge with sufficient regularity in the text to be regarded as a key issue. As well as the theme of academic education, there is also Frank's spiritual one. Throughout the book, McCourt describes the Catholic religion in a somewhat sceptical way; his first communion, his confirmation, as well as being seen as important steps towards growing up, are seen by Frank McCourt in a very humorous way.

Angela's Ashes

There are stories of confessions, filled with hilarity and satire, as well as some serious concerns and strong feelings of guilt. However, the most obvious thing that McCourt shows about the Irish Church is its prejudice, support of the class divisions, and its complete lack of charity towards the genuinely poor and suffering. McCourt tells us about how twice the door was slammed in his face by the church, firstly when he wanted to be an altar boy, and secondly when he wanted to join the Christian Brothers School.

Genesis of a Historical Novel: meaning in the ashes

Then there is the bullying associated with compulsory membership of the Arch Confraternity, and the demand that every boy, however poor or hungry, must buy a catechism and a suit for First Communion. Although he is an intelligent, quick-witted, and eager student, he is prevented from becoming an altar boy and deprived of chances to further his education, because when people see him dressed in rags, they shun him. In particular, he looks to America as a classless society where his ambitions will be realized and his talents rewarded, despite his lower-class upbringing.

Frank is plagued by hunger throughout his childhood.

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The McCourts never have enough food to eat, and the food they do manage to procure is scant and unsatisfying. Hunger is mentioned over and over again until it becomes a haunting presence in the narrative. Yes, yes it did! Twice actually. Oh Lordy! More than once.

The Glass Castle killed me. This one was tough to read. There are lice! The children are starving! It keeps me empathetic.


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It keeps things in perspective. It teaches me. Spot on this review.

South Bank Show 1999 - Frank McCourt / Angela's Ashes

I love the cartoon! Like, rich person memoirs? Is that a thing? I feel like most of the ones I see — not just read, but see — are about people with miserable wretched lives. I tend to read memoirs that are about the same as my life, or a tad worse.

I anticipated a romanticized version of life, since the family was relocating from southern CA to a simpler, tropical island life. They eventually returned to the states, but a very interesting read. However, your review is making me rethink the book. I have no problems reading about sad, scary, disturbing lives — they are interesting and teach me to be nicer to people and appreciate what I have.

It puts the little annoying stuff into perspective. Expensive gas or walking? This one strikes home.

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