Proposal For Angela

Angela’s Ashes Portrays Low Income Working Class Families



While reading Angela’s Ashes in my junior year of high school I thought
about how life must have been for other families with low incomes during the
Great Depression. Although Angela’s Ashes takes place mainly in Ireland during
the Potato Famine, I believe that what the McCourt family went through was very
similar to the struggles that the working class experienced in the United States
in the 1930’s. The book outlines the life of Frank McCourt being Catholic and
Irish in Limerick, Ireland. Throughout Angela’s Ashes the daily struggles for
food, shelter, medical care and Frank McCourt describes education while he looks
back on life. One small paragraph in the book stands out as very moving. In this
paragraph McCourt explains his view of his childhood. He says, “When I look
back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of
course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while.
Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood,
and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." This paragraph
not only gives his perception of growing up poor, Catholic and Irish, but also
gives a little background on his general view of life from a child’s eyes.

In this paper I will not only explain the significance of this book on the
current media trend, but also compare and contrast McCourts life with the lives
of many working class Americans during the same time period. There are many
parts of the book, which I feel could be very significant in relating the main
points of working class life.

I am planning on tying in articles about the Great Depression and the Potato
Famine as well as giving the startling similarities. In one instance McCourt
writes, “No, no matter what she can’t bear the thought of putting us in an
orphanage. That might be all right if you had the like of Boys’ Town in
America with a nice priest like Spencer Tracy but you could never trust the
Christian Brothers out in Glin who get their exercise beating boys and starving
the life out of them. Mam says there’s nothing left but the Dispensary and the
public assistance, the relief and she’s ashamed of her life to go and ask for
it. It means you’re at the end of your rope and maybe one level above tinkers,
knackers and street beggars in general.” Frank McCourt came to the United
States when he was nineteen years old and proceeded to get a college education
and become an English teacher. He later wrote Angela’s Ashes and won the
Pulitzer Prize for this amazing book. The book was also turned into a movie,
which I feel gives an even more accurate picture of growing up as poor and
working class.

Category: Book Reports