Angela's Ashes: Analysis


It is a common view that times for the Irish majority in the 1930's and 40's were very hard. Especially for the Irish Catholic families with the stereotypical drunken father, emotionally wrecked mother, kids running round her with her sore back from the next child ready too be born. In Angela's Ashes, McCourt examines his childhood experiences, the tragedies, hardships, learning, all involved with growing up.

One of the most interesting aspects of the writing in Angela's Ashes is how the text is written, from McCourts interpretation of the situation at his age he was at the time, the spelling and grammar also indicates that the child is writing, not the adult. This contributes immensely to the emotions and enjoyment evoked from reading the book. It also better describes how a child actually sees the things going around them, and what they may be thinking. Personally, sometimes is made me think for a while about how I interpreted things I saw when I was that age, and the fun I had being a 'kid' with my sister.

McCourt describes his brothers and sister, even the ones that died and how much he enjoyed growing up with them, how they cared and loved for each other. Because of the appalling quarters they lived in and the lack of money and food there was terminal illnesses in the family which proved fatal to some of his siblings. McCourt in his 'child-like' writing style describes how his siblings and he, interpret what's happened and how they see their parents reacting. McCourt also analyses how his younger brother Malachy looks up to him and how much he takes Malachy under his 'wing' and takes care of him.

Parenting is said to be one of the hardest tasks out there today, especially sole-parenting. McCourt carefully examines his mother, how she copes with her drunken betrothed, how her cousins who married 'gentlemen' are constantly try to run her life, and how she acts as a woman. His father, the 'Irish drunk' who is constantly making him and his brother swear their lives for Ireland and singing Roddy McCorley and Kevin Barry after a night at the pub. How his father will tell him stories about old Irish folklore and get sacked from job after job.

As Frank progresses into adolescence, he explores the feelings and changes he goes through. Such topics as sexuality, puberty, religion, drinking are investigated and the outcomes are dealt with. It could be said that all adolescent males should read this book for this reason only, 'what to avoid' in growing up through the teen years. While this part of the book is very humourous at times, it still strongly reinforces the point of a dysfunctional family and the effects it has on children.

The 'child - like' writing style really makes the book enjoyable and can make the reader laugh or cry at the child's interpretation of the situation. It does however take some getting used to and sometimes you may have to re-read a sentence to make sense of words, or what exactly is happening. Also the lack of punctuation makes it very difficult sometimes to tell who is speaking and what is said as a whole. But by about a quarter the way through the book you will be used to this and notice how words are suddenly spelt correctly or are still incorrect, but spelt a different way. This aspect while not being a great one, seems necessary to add to the style of writing.

The guts of the book is the humour and style of writing, and it would appeal to those who wish for a book to summon forth emotions or humour, sadness and reflections on personal child experiences.