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Samenvatting
Author:
The author of this book is Frank McCourt.

Biographical data:
Frank McCourt was born in America. He moved to Ireland when he was about four years old. There he lived with his father, mother and three brohers. They lived in great poverty. Two brothers and one sister had died because of an illnes. When he was 21 he went back to America. There he was a writing teacher at Stuvesant highschool for many years. He also played with his broher Malachy in A couple of Blaguards, a musical revue about their Irish youth.
Source: The information on the cover of the book Angela’s Ashes

Year of first publication:1996

Explanation of the title:
Franks mother Angela died in 1981, was cremated ,and her ashes taken back to Ireland, whence the books title.

Genre: Autobiographical novel.

Description of the main characters:
The main character is the author himself, Frank McCourt. He lived the first few years of his live in America and then he moved to Ireland with his parents and three brothers. People said he was a strange person. Quote: “He has the odd manner like his father”. This was said by villagers and friends of his mother. I thought he was a very sweet little chap who cared a lot about his parents and brothers and sister. He tried very hard not to become like his father namely a coward and a alcholic. He worked very hard to earn money for his family and himself. That must have taken a lot of strength and courage.
His mother Angela raised him and his brothers and sister. She had a lot of children, but she also lost three of them. She took care of them literally all on her own, as Frank’s father spent all his wages (if he had a job)on alcohol. He was seldom at home, but he did love his family. I think he was just a big coward who didn’t know what to do with himself. He came from the North of Ireland, which lots of people found an argument for him being such a strange and irresponsible man.


Plot:
Frankie moved with his parents and his brothers from America back to Ireland to see if they could try to have a better life
there. But this was thought wrong. They stayed poor. They lived under the most repulsive circumstances, which was common in those days. Frankies father didn’t have any work, so they had to go on the dole. The dole money wasn’t enough, which forced Angela to go and beg at the church for food and clothes.
Frankie went to school with his brother Malachy. There he learnt all about God. Religion was a very important issue in those days, so most of the time was spent on it in school.
The second world war came and there were lots of jobs available. All the men in Limerick went. Frankies father refused to go, because he hated England for all the things she had done to Ireland. Eventually he went but they never did receive one paycheck.
Angela and her children had to move out of their house because they couldn’t afford the rent anymore. They went to live with their uncle in a small house. Frankie hated it and got into a big fight with his uncle and he left. Frank had a dream of going back to America and becoming rich. So he got a job and supported his mother and brothers with the money he earned. He saved enough money to get the boat back to America and he left. He arrived in America and he felt free from everything! 250

Narrative stucture:
This book starts in the present and from then it’s one long flash back which is written in chronological order. It starts when Frank McCourt is born and it ends when he arrives back in America.

Theme:
The theme of this book is how families are effected by grinding poverty and that there is no way out in those kind of situations, except when norms and values change of a person or society. Frank was raised in the catholic way. If he did something bad he would confess and then as a punishment he would have to say a hail mary or so. People in those days liked to blame things and other people for how they were living, but they never did anything to change the situation they were living in. Frank McCourt did, he changed his norms and values. So instead of living the rest of his life in poverty he decided to go to america and make something out of his life.

Opinion:
I found that the book was written in a most extraordinary way. Frank McCourt managed to write his youth story in such a humoristic way that you did and still do realise how bad the poverty was and how people could live in such extreme circumstances, but that you don’t want to put the book down because of it.
The story made me cry and it made me laugh, it made me feel sorry for the people who lived in such terrible circumstances and it made me feel angry with the people who did nothing about it. It even made me feel sorry for Franks father who did hardly anything but drink. That was probably because Frank didn’t blame everything that happend in his life on something or someone. He actually, even if it is hard to believe, always looked at the bright side of everything, or at least he didn’t let the bad things put him down. He went on with his life, which lots of people didn’t do. They just stuck with their norms and values and didn’t change a thing.


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