Malachy McCourt: Negligent Father, or Troubled Soul? Analyzes the character of Malachy McCourt, Frankie's father from the novel "Angela's Ashes".

Essay by hotshhhiiitttHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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The novel Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt has entertained and astounded both literary analysts and book-lovers alike for a decade now, being critically acclaimed by countless respected scholars and critics of literature. Over the years, it has achieved numerous awards and honors, including the Pulitzer Prize. Among the most appealing aspects of this brilliant piece, Frank McCourt manages to weave a colorful tale mixed with both humor and sorrow, tugging at seemingly every emotion imaginable, while at the same time presenting multiple intricate conflicts among and between each of the main characters. Many themes are also presented throughout the piece, including class limitations, hunger and/or poverty, Irish patriotism, and subsequent contempt for the English, Catholicism, guilt, and perhaps the most evident and significant theme, alcoholism. Malachy Sr.'s unrelenting addiction to "the pint" is often the strongest driving force influencing the plot, and is the catalyst that brings about many conflicts and advances in the plot, which in turn reveal much about the characters and their personalities.

A much-debated topic among the erudite scholars of well-acclaimed literature as well as everyday readers and students of literature is where the responsibility and resultant blame lie in reference to the family's poverty-stricken condition. One side casts absolute fault upon Malachy as a person, citing his multiple drunken escapades in which he embarrasses himself in front of others, as well as the countless times he pissed away the dole money on his precious liquor, meanwhile leaving his wife and kids to fend for themselves, or risk starvation. The other, more sympathetic side, casts fault upon the drink itself, and suggests that Malachy as a person is not to blame, but rather his alcoholism and its tendencies to make him do only what is in his own best interest. Many great men have fallen victim...