Mrs. SingletaryIt is a frequent view that times for the Irish majority in the 1930s and 40s were very hard.
Especially for the Irish Catholic families with the stereotypical drunken father, emotionally ruined mother, kids running around her with her a sore back from the next child to be born. In Angelas Ashes, Frank McCourt examines his childhood experiences, the tragedies, hardships, and learning involved with growing up. One of the most interesting aspects of the writing in Angelas Ashes is how the text is written, from McCourts interpretation of the situation at his age that he was at the time, the spelling and grammar also indicate that the child is writing, not the adult. This contributes greatly to the emotions and enjoyment evoked from reading the book. It also better describes how a child actually sees the things that are going on around them, and what they may be thinking.
Personally, sometimes it has 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. 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 childlike writing style describes how his siblings and he, interpret whats happened and how they see their parents reacting. McCourt also analyzes how his young 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 husband, how her cousins who married gentlemen are constantly trying 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, and how he 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 that he goes through. Such topics as sexuality, puberty, religion, and drinking are investigated and the outcomes are dealt with.
It could be said that all adolescent males should read this book for the reason only, what to avoid in growing up through the teen years. While this part of the book is humorous at times, it still strongly reinforces the point of a dysfunctional family and the effects if has on children. The child-like writing style really makes the book pleasant and can make the reader laugh or cry at the childs interpretation of the situation. It does however take some getting used to and sometimes reading again to make sense of words to understand what is actually happening. Also the lack of punctuation makes it difficult to tell who is speaking and what I said all together.
But by a quarter of the way through the book you will be used to this and notice how suddenly words are spelled correctly, or are spelled incorrectly but in 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 are the humor and style of writing, and it would appeal to those who wish for a book to summon forth emotions or humor, sadness and reflections on personal child experiences. It also shows how Frank McCourt was a rock for his family. He was a steady foundation for his family to lean on. He never gave up on life through all his adversity.
In the end, Frank wonders how he survived it all. Well, he survived because he adapted to what society threw him. He became socialized even though his role was to drink away his life. He became the real man of the family, and he did his best to save his family from the inevitable.