"Angela's Ashes" - How did Frank McCourt's tragic childhood lead to his success as an adult?

Essay by $CMoney$Junior High, 9th gradeA, November 2007

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In Frank McCourt’s incredible and poignant memoir "Angela’s Ashes" McCourt explains, with a bit of a cynical sense of humor, how the childhood of an Irish Catholic is one of the most, if not the most, difficult childhoods for a person to live through. But goes on to say that difficult doesn’t necessarily mean bad in every way, because “...the happy childhood is hardly worth your while” (McCourt 11). As indescribably miserable and problematic as Frank’s childhood is the fact that he is forced into being his house’s “father figure,” always has a lot to aspire to and the fact that he is surrounded by seemingly failed lives in Limerick, Ireland all help him escape that lifestyle and grow up to be an amazingly successful adult.

With his father Malachy always out drinking away the money he earns at work (when he has a job) Frank is forced to be the father figure in the McCourt household and even to his own father at times while also learning strength and ability through independence.

A childhood as unhappy as McCourt’s, however, is so rich in the sense that he always has a lot to look forward to; dreaming and aspiring to any life that is not his. Frank only sees failed lives of people who gave up or just became “safeshots” as Pa Keating calls them (McCourt 335). Frank was able to take this in and use it as fuel for his dreams. Similarly, while Malachy was away and drinking, Frank had many other “fathers” to look after him such as his Uncle Pa Keating, Mr. O’Halloran, Mr. Timoney and Mr. Hannon. Uncle Pa Keating told Frank “’Tis your life, make your own decisions and to hell with the begrudgers,” (McCourt 335) while Mr. Hannon said to go to school...