Angela's Ashes

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Intertexual Essay By Anna Swartz Children expect many things from life, but as Margaret Michel once wrote "Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect". This statement is found to be true in "Angela's Ashes", by Frank McCourt and "Ten Thousand Sorrows", by Elizabeth Kim. In both novels the children's basic expectations for their parents like to be loved and cared for were not met. In the comparison of the two novels it was found that there were both similarities, such as both authors choice to write in first person, and differences, for instance their choice on how to structure their stories.

A parents love something that is forever sought after by a child. Frank McCourt in "Angela's Ashes", strives for his fathers love for many years. He does everything that he can in a last effort to become more important than a pint in his father's life.

This is very similar to the efforts of Elizabeth Kim in "Ten Thousand Sorrows". After being taken to America a realising that her adopted mother did not love her, Kim did anything she could to gain any kind of warmth. Within the first few weeks of first being introduced to her new family and new culture, Kim learnt fairly fluent English and tried everything that was put before her, all to gain the love of her mother. This is true to what Margaret Michel said "Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect". Both children in both novels, expected their parents love and did anything they could to win it. Both were sorely disappointed.

A child will seek their parents love, but only for so long. In "Angela's Ashes", Frank McCourt strives for his fathers love for many years, but after realising that he will never become more important than a drink, he moves on. After this realisation he decides that he must live for himself. From that point on he saves every penny he has so he can move to America. Again this is very similar to Elizabeth Kim's life. After growing up with parents who never said they loved her, she married into an abusive marriage with a man who didn't love her. After leaving him and still finding no support from her mother or father, she moved away to start a life where she was in control. Her life with her parents offered her no love so she decided to start again. Again this relates to the quote "Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect". After realising that life was not going to give them what they expected, they moved on Both novels start the story with a small acknowledgment. What is different about these to most acknowledgments is that they are in the form of a small story in "Angela's Ashes", and a poem in "Ten Thousand Sorrows". This may have been done because it makes the acknowledgment more personal than just saying ""¦this is dedicated to blah blah"¦". In "Ten Thousand Sorrows" the poem* is to Elizabeth's biological mother "“ Omma. It reveals Elizabeth's deep love and sorrow over the death of her mother. Before even reading the memoir, we are already given a small insight into the heart of Elizabeth Kim. In "Angela's Ashes", the small story* recalling the process that was taken to achieve the novel gives the reader an appreciation for the author. It also helps them to realise the work and support which was needed to complete the story. Both acknowledgments were good, giving the reader a small understanding of the author before the story begins.

Frank McCourt and Elizabeth Kim both chose to write their stories in first person. The main reason that this style would have been selected is that both of these books are memoirs. Therefor it makes sense to write them as if the authors are telling of their lives. Also by writing in first person the reader can focus on one character and learn about their thoughts in depth. This was a good technique to use in "Angela's Ashes" as much of the story is told through the thoughts of Frank McCourt. Writing in first person was also a good technique in "Ten Thousand Sorrows". This is because Kim often tells of her thoughts and personal moments, which no one else would know about. Although writing in fist person restricted them to telling of only their thoughts, it is realistic as they are both true stories, and in real life they would not have known what other people were thinking.

Each author chose to tell their stories in different styles. Frank McCourt chose to tell his in present tense. This was a good technique as it put the reader at the scene in every situation and helped them to identify with the character. Also I think that it added a little more suspense into the novel. By writing it in present tense it was almost like Frank himself didn't know what was going to happen next in his life. Although Elizabeth Kim chose to write her story in retrospect, it worked just as well. It gave her story a little more of a mature feel. All through "Angela's Ashes", the feeling of the story changed as Frank grew. When he was five, the appropriate language was used then when he was sixteen the language became a little more complex. All during "Ten Thousand Sorrows" adult language was used and adult explanations were given. Both of these techniques worked well in the separate novels.

Being brought into the world completely vulnerable, growing up and learning from their parents, children gain certain expectations. The main one of these is the belief that they will be loved. As a child, you expect that your parents will care and look after you. This was the case in both "Angela's Ashes" and "Ten Thousand Sorrows". But both Frank and Elizabeth soon learned that "Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect".