Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
A Look at Irish Culture during the Depression Era
Frank Mc Court, the author of Angela's Ashes, was born during the Great Depression. A few years after immigrating to the United States because their families believed they would find their fortune here, his Irish family moved back to Ireland in hopes of a better life. They were met with only more hardships in their native country. His book shows the struggle and small joys of daily life with siblings, school friends, and the adults in his life. It also provides much insight into the way the people in Ireland lived at that time. The author tells the story from the viewpoint of Frank, the oldest child of a father whose background in "the North" (having been involved with the IRA) causes continual suspicion. His mother, Angela, had never known her father and her own mother is very miserly and offers no help to the woman and her children. Through the course of telling about his own life and his family's hard times, McCourt touches upon the fighting that went on between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and the toll this had on the Irish people. He also delved deeply into the issue of poverty among the Irish and the many ways they dealt with the hardship in their lives. Life in the Irish city of Limerick is so hard that starvation is a way of life for most of the residents "Consumption," pneumonia, and typhoid are rampant; children go to school barefoot or in pieces of flopping rubber; and stealing is a necessity. Frank's baby sister and twin brothers die due to the family's economic situation causing a lack of nutrition and medical attention. There is also "the drink"-- the disease of Irish fathers who spend their weeks' wages in the pub on Friday night. (p. 184) Frank's mother was forced to seek Relief,' the Irish version of America's welfare system. She also sought help from the Catholic and Protestant Church in feeding her family. The iron in the book...
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