This novel received a Pulitzer Prize in 1997. It embodies comedy with the veracity of misery and poverty. The novel narrates about the trials and misfortunes of Frank McCourt together with his mother named Angela, who is an Irish. The latter is depicted as a mother who constantly grieves with the lost of her three children, and the regular dissatisfaction of Malachy, her husband (McCourt).
He is a worn-out father who squanders his money in beers and alcoholic beverages and always goes in bar. He is portrayed as a drunken character all throughout the novel. McCourt splurges most of his childhood days in America. There he sees how his mother experiences so much suffering with the lost her other children. Margaret, his sister, dies because of severe tuberculosis and is never laid to rest after being relocated to a health clinic in New York City, where the family decides to reside in.
Not long after the death of his sister, another tragic episode comes to Frank’s family. Their twins die due to typhoid upon their transfer to New York to the distraction of the streets of Limerick, Ireland. Though the novel seems so tragic, there are still numerous anecdotes in the story. Among the funniest episodes is when Frank carries a telegram to Mr. Harrington (McCourt). He is an Englishman who turns out to be somewhat frenzied by the decease of his wife Ann.
He places the corpse of his lifeless wife on her bed in his house. Due to the lost of his wife, Harrington becomes so in tune of drinking alcoholic beverages. The anecdote emerges when the latter requested Frank to watch for his wife in their house while he is away and in the bar. When Rank learns that Ann dies as a Protestant, he feels so sorry for her that he wishes to convert the dead lady into a Catholic.
He attempts to baptize her using sherry as a substitute for holy water. When the man of the house returns he is so surprised and furiously yells at him by saying, 'What the bloody hell are you doing? Get off my, wife you wretched Papist Twit. What Primitive Paddy ritual is this? Did you touch her? Did you? I'll ring your scrawny little neck! (McCourt)' The scene communicates the resistance that is there in Irish civilization among pro-English Protestantism and pro-Irish Catholicism.
These religious groups have consistently struggled against church tenets and dominance for over centuries. This novel made me reflect about how people are made miserable by poverty - on occasion by their own dealings and sometimes by pure chance. It attempts to convey to the reader about how lucky they are for having what they have, and for not living the life that the protagonist of the novel does. It suggests the reader to be always grateful for all that they possess and to be always compassionate and considerate to less fortunate people.
Through the novel, it allows the reader to have a quick look on the Irish religion and culture. Poverty is a typical theme used to describe how underdeveloped countries find means to uplift their ways of life. But what the story suggests is so different because the setting is made in a Western region which is traditionally seen as a district that is better-off than underdeveloped countries.
To sum up, I got so much pleasure from reading this novel because it allowed me to have glimpse of the author’s experiences. The language used throughout the novel is straightforward. It does not have big words or grand phrases. The narration of the memoirs of the author is made with ease such that the reader could easily understand and follow the plot of the novel.
McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes. Flamigo, 1999.