The autobiography Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt tells the life of the McCourt family while living in poverty in Limmerick, Ireland during the 30's and 40's. Frank McCourt relates his difficult childhood to the reader up to the time he leaves for America at age nineteen. The book has many prevailing themes, but one of the most notable is the settings relationship to the family. The setting of the book ultimately influences the choices and lifestyle of the McCourt family in many ways.
Living in poverty and not being able to meet basic needs leads the characters to result to desperate measures such as stopping Frank McCourt's education and taking a job to support the family. Frank is forced to take the job mostly because his father is an alcoholic and uses all the dole money and his wages to buy beer instead of feeding his family. Frank describes this pattern of drinking away the money by saying " When Dad comes home with the drink smell there is no money and Mam screams at him till the Twins cry."(42) This situation lasts until Mr.McCourt leaves to work in England and is never heard from again which forces Frank to take a job at fourteen years old. Frank takes on the role of the head of the family proudly and comments " Its hard to sleep when you know you know the next day you're fourteen and starting your first job as a man." (p.309) Frank's ability to provide financial stability leads to greater comfort and living conditions for the family.
The members of the McCourt family are also forced to beg and steal in order to help the family's well being. Mrs.McCourt begs charities especially the St. Vincent de Paul Society for help with basic necessities for the family such as food, clothing, and furniture. Mrs.McCourt is even forced to beg for the family's Christmas dinner. The butcher who she begs to tells her " What you can have now missus, Is black pudding and tripe or a sheep's head or a pig's head."(97) Mrs.McCourt reluctantly accept the...
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