In the autobiographical book, Angela‘s Ashes, the Author Frank McCourt
confronts the theme of poverty and hunger as he grows up an Irish Catholic, in Limerick,
Ireland. McCourt expresses his feelings and thoughts of his painful upbringing by
writing in first person, present tense 40 years after the events. He uses setting, tone,
symbolism and imagery to describe the deprivation and hunger of his family. McCourt’s
father, Malachy McCourt, the antagonist, jeopardizes his family by his irresponsible
which creates drinking creating the conflict.
Frank McCourt was born in Brooklyn, New York. His family moved to Limerick,
Ireland when he was five after the death of his sister, Margaret. In Ireland he lived in
poverty with his mother, father, and three brothers. The death of three siblings from
illness and deprivation set the tone for his memoirs. As a young man of eighteen he
immigrated back to America for the opportunities he believed would be there. For more
then thirty years he taught writing at a high school in New York City and dreamed of one
day becoming an author. Writing the story of his childhood was his way of pursuing his
dream. Angela‘s Ashes, McCourt’s “epic of woe,” won the Pulitzer Prize and the
National Book Critic’s Circle Award.
The setting of Angela’s Ashes is in Limerick, Ireland in the 1930‘s and 40‘s. The
town is rural and there is a lot of rain and gloominess which also supports the tone of the
story which is gray, bleak, and cold. “Out in the Atlantic Ocean great sheets of rain
gathered to drift slowly up the River Shannon and settle forever in Limerick.” This gives
the reader the sense of no hope and continuous clouds.
The impact of poverty and hunger on Frank and his family is a major theme in
Angela’s Ashes. Meals are scant, rare and unsatisfactory. “We have nothing but bread
and tea and she (Mam) doesn’t...