Angela’s Ashes Summary

Angela’s Ashes follows the memoirs of Frank McCourt and details his childhood in Brooklyn and Limerick. The memoir spans from Angela’s (Frank’s mother) childhood until she returns to Ireland after her husband dies.

The memoir begins by detailing Angela’s childhood in Ireland, writing about how poverty stricken the family was, the lack of food that the family had, and how Angela was forced to leave school because she could not afford it. When Angela comes of age, she moves to America in search of a better life. The memoir continues by detailing her married life with Frank’s father. They have four children together, the memoir focusing mostly on Frank as he gets older.

McCourt writes about his struggles with poverty growing up, writing about how he is forced to drop out of school because his parents cannot afford for him to go anymore. He writes about continuing to live with his parents despite dropping out because he has nowhere else to live at that point unless he were to return to Ireland (which McCourt does not want to do). Throughout Angela’s Ashes, McCourt details various elements of his childhood, sharing various anecdotes about how he would have to catch rats with his bare hands because they were eating everything in the house, or how Angela’s brother fell off of a ladder and died.

Angela’s Ashes also talks about Angela’s return to Ireland after her husband dies. At this point she is very ill due to liver problems (which McCourt attributes to the fact that her brother had recently fallen off of a ladder).

McCourt writes about what it was like living in Brooklyn as an Irish immigrant boy and later as an adult. He paints both experiences with great detail, writing about how difficult it is for him growing up (especially with the tough economic climate), but also including humorous stories throughout (such as stories about his friends and how he had to sometimes scrounge for food). Time passes and McCourt is older, becomes a teacher, and then decides to return back to Ireland (he had previously taught in New York City).

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt’s is a memoir that was written in 1996. It tells the story of McCourt’s upbringing in Brooklyn, New York and Limerick, Ireland. The memoir follows the story of McCourt growing up with his parents and siblings in abject poverty while still trying to maintain some kind of dignity.

McCourt talks about how his father left for America without any notice one day, leaving him at an early age to manage his family on what little money he could make from doing odd jobs around town. He also includes stories about Angela’s sister, Margaret, who would come to live with them after being kicked out of her home for having a child out of wedlock.

The memoir chronicles both feet of hardship McCourt had to endure, with the most serious chapter dedicated to the death of his 3-year old brother, Oliver. It also discusses how Angela contracted and eventually died from tuberculosis.

McCourt argues in his memoir that he and his siblings were robbed of their youth due to the circumstances they were forced into by living in such conditions. He describes how he would be sent out on “coffin runs,” either for himself when he was sick or for one of his brothers when they couldn’t manage it themselves due to their young age.

McCourt also talks about how unfair it was for him and other immigrant children when dealing with the Irish school system. He recounts numerous stories where he is punished or humiliated by teachers because his English is not fluent enough.

In Angela’s Ashes, the author Frank McCourt gives his whole self in the telling of this story. It is his life’s journey- the hardship, horrors, pain and suffering that he endures. With this memoir, McCourt becomes a teacher and a priest. He does not seem to be a conventional memoir writer because he tells the story from his young childish voice. As seen in Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, memoirs give people hope of making something great of themselves even if they have suffered hardship and misery most of their life. The memoir begins with an introduction to Angela Sheehan and her husband Malachy who were born into poverty.

The narrator’s father was passionate about becoming an actor but never pursued it because of financial problems that his family had at that time. His mother always felt like “a poor mouth” because she had children— seven sons and one daughter- and no money to support them. Angela’s Ashes then quickly goes on to explain how the narrator and his siblings were malnourished because their mother could not afford to feed them properly. The memoir shows what happened during the Great Depression. Malachy was not able to find a job so he turned alcoholic, which made it harder for him to look after his family.

He was even seen lying in the street most of the time from being intoxicated. The memoir also pushes through with mentioning about how people looked down upon Mrs Sheehan because she couldn’t take care of her children properly all the time. In most cases, they would tell her that she should put her kids in an orphanage where they would be better taken care of, but she always refused to do so. The memoir also mentions how the kids were not able to concentrate on their studies because of hunger. They were always smelling food but couldn’t ever get enough of it, except for once when they ate rotten fish out of can and still craved more.

The memoir discusses how people admired priests back then and grew negative opinions about them later due to certain actions that took place during those times. It was a memoir full of hope- a memoir that gave one the courage to believe in better lives, even if one has already suffered so much both emotionally and physically. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt’s is a memoir that highlights the struggles that families have gone through especially at the time of Great Depression. One should read this memoir for inspiration and to get a sense of hope that one day, there would be better times.

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