41 pages 1 hour read

Frank McCourt

Angela's Ashes

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1996

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Key Figures

Frank McCourt

As the author and protagonist of this story, McCourt’s tone remains balanced throughout most of the narrative. His upbringing is miserable, and he and his family constantly suffer the consequences of poverty. There is illness, which sweeps away Frank’s siblings and nearly himself and Angela. There is hunger, and the depths of desperation Frank sinks to when he is older and learns how to steal. There is the omnipresent alcoholism of his father, which only worsens the family’s circumstances. One might expect Frank to turn this memoir into a bitter screed against the wealthy or against English discrimination, but he does not. Instead, his manner remains tempered, and while the book is meant to elicit sympathy, that is not its only purpose.

Instead, McCourt wants the reader to recognize how far he has come in life. He paints himself as an innocent, naive child for most of the book: It takes him almost 13 years to learn how babies are born. However, Frank has an inner drive that keeps him pushing forward despite the unbearable misery all around him. Perhaps it is thanks to his father and the values he instilled in Frank (although he could not live up to these himself) that Frank developed this drive at a young age.

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Related Titles

By Frank McCourt