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Posted on June 15th, 2012, by

The novel Angela’s Ashes is a true life story of Frank McCourt, born in a family of Irish immigrants in Brooklyn. As Frank was born just in the period of Great depression in New York and later raised in Ireland during the world crisis, he as no one else, knew and later vividly depicted the atmosphere or that time in his book. Starting the novel with the words: When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood. … (p. 11) He gives us a little of idea what the story is going to be about.

Spent few years in Brooklyn in poverty and no money the McCourt’s family decided to move back to Ireland, to the city of Limerick. Because the family immigrated to N.Y. at the beginning of Great Depression it was no wonder that they couldn’t succeed or at list find a worth place to live. But the realities of their Motherland they faced when came back, dissolved any hope for better life and only resulted more financial difficulties.

Their financial troubles were getting worse and worse because of the alcoholism of Frank’s father, a usual case in Irish society of that time. No wonder that first living in N.Y. his life was like a nightmare because of the Prohibition era.

Awful and unbearable conditions of life the family felt during Frank’s childhood caused a tragedy to Frank’s family. Constant illnesses and hunger that bordered with starvation were the results of his sister’s Margaret death, that also reflected in his Mum’s depression.

The situation in the family suppressed by local authorities, Catholic Church and situation in Ireland in general could break any strong-willed man, not talking about a little boy.

But Frank, even being a child, never gave up. He was hungry all the time, but he had never had a thought of asking for charity, he would better steal. That little boy took the realities of the cruel world, but he stroke.  He hated the circumstances that made his family to feel a great need, and depend upon other people, as he later wrote in Angela’s ashes: There’s nothing worse in the world, than to owe and be beholden to anyone.(p.54).

The book is a story of a little boy’s life, described by a little boy, whose description and narration gives more colors and realism. He tried to be optimistic about misfortunes at home and school, taking troubles as adventures.

The optimism and the triumph of the boy over the difficulties, unhappiness and constant struggle is obvious. He didn’t loose the human values and self dignity even in the moments of starvation and misfortunes,

The book is very humanist, and the cheerful, emotional mood of the authors proves it. The irony, realism, and detail description of the social life of 30-40th makes the reader to laugh, sympathize and even cry.  The problem touched in McCourt’s memoir may question the soil and truth of our own problems, comparing them to those of a little Irish boy living in a dirty slums of  Limerick.

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