Angelas Ashes Essay, Research Paper
How Frank Survived
Poverty is something that many of us will never have to face. I never could have survived growing up the way Frank McCourt did with the constant dampness of things, an alcoholic father, religion shoved down my throat and family members dying left and right. It makes you wonder how he and his family did it. Was it that he was happy with what he had or was it more than that? Frank may not have had many materialistic items or a very good father but he did many things that helped him along the way. Stories of heroes and other fiction, father figures and dreams all kept him going and not giving up hope.
Literature in any form was something that seemed to bring Frank comfort and enjoyment. Once he said that Shakespeare was like having jewels in his mouth. The words of books had more meaning to Frank than most would have gotten out of it. Books allowed Frank to go off to different places. ?It?s lovely to know the world can?t interfere with the inside of your head?. (202) They allowed much time to pass and gave
him things to think and dream. Yet while he was still poverty stricken and adults wanted to rule his whole life, including his mind, he always had what he has learned and the stories he read kept to himself that no one could take away.
When Frankie was very young his father told him the story of Cuchulain. The reason Frank liked this story so much was because it gave him a connection to his father. ?He finishes the story and lets me sip his tea. It?s bitter, but I am happy there on his lap?. (21) Frank called it ?his? story and protected it as if it truly was. He pushes his brother down and beats up Freddie Leibowitz because he thinks that they tried to steal it from him.
Another story that his father told him that gave him comfort was the Angel on the Seventh Step. Frank treats this imaginary angel like a friend. He tells the angel about his problems, dreams and fears. He is able to talk the angel about the things he doesn?t feel he can talk about with his mother and father. He imagines this angel speaking to him and comforting him by saying things like ?Fear not?.
Beyond Frank?s world of imagination and books were all of the male figures in his life. Frank?s father was never around much so he didn?t receive any type of guidance from him. Frank said some where in the novel that his father was like two different people; the father in the morning filled with stories and the father who would come home drunk making the children promise to die for Ireland.
Although he had the negative side that Frank had to see it was still turned out to be positive for Frank because it allowed him to learn to be the type of person he wanted to be.
Even though no one could take the place of a true father, Frank?s Uncle Pa Keating came close. Since Uncle Pa Keating never had children of his own, he treated Frank like a son. He showed Frank affection and gave him things that Frank?s father
never did. Frank looked up to Uncle Pa Keating because he brings home the wages, holds a steady job and can sit at the South pub and not come home drunk. He is everything Frank wants in a father and everything his father is not.
Uncle Pa Keating shows Frank not only affection but also how the world works. He shows Frank that everything doesn?t always have to be as serious as everyone says. Uncle Pa Keating gives Frank outlooks for his future. He tells him things like that if Frank takes the post office exam his mind will be dead by the time he is thirty and he encourages him to go to America and make something of himself. Most of all Uncle Pa Keating, unlike Frank?s father, is the type of person he does want to be. ??He doesn?t give a fiddler?s fart what the world says and that?s the way I?d like to be myself.?(116)
Mr. Hannon was another man that treated Frank like a son. Frank was able to learn responsibilities from him. He gave Frank confidence in himself by complimenting him and rewarding him for is good services. Like Uncle Pa Keating, Mr. Hannon tells Frank to stay in school and go to America to make something of himself before his mind collapses. ?You?re a great man Frankie?. (264). Mr. Hannon helped Frank on the start of his transition of becoming a man. He lets Frank take charge of the wagon and the horse and shows him how the work is done. He treated Frank like the son he never had.
There were two men that weren?t brought up in the memoir very much but made a strong impact on Frank?s life. Mr. Timoney being the first, was an old man Frank read books to for a short while. He didn?t treat Frank like a child. From that, Frank looked at him as more than just a job, but as a friend. He could talk to Mr. Timoney like he could
talk to the Angel on the Seventh Step. He could tell him things he couldn?t tell his mother and father. He introduces Frank to new books and ideas about the world. He wants Frank to keep reading and reading until they fall out of his head.
The other man, Mr. O?Halloran, is very kind to Frank and helps him to learn instead of like all the other teachers that force him to learn. He opened new doors to Frank for his future and tries to get him to attend a secondary school. Mr. O?Halloran shows a lot of interest in Frank?s abilities and future. He went against the grain of the common belief the Irish were perfect and told Frank and his class that the Irish weren?t any better nor any worse than the English. O?Halloran allowed the students to ask questions and have their own opinions.
Seamus, a man Frank met in the hospital, was another comfort to Frank. In the hospital, Seamus would keep Frank company while no one was around and he when he was lonely. For Frank?s enjoyment he would try to teach him new songs or learn poems. He never had children so again Frank has someone there who treats him like his own. He goes off to learn poems for Frank. He gives Frank hope and Frank does the same for him.
It wasn?t only people and imagination that seemed to keep Frank going but it was also his dream of a better life, the dream to provide for his family so they wouldn?t be hungry anymore. Most of all, it was his dream to go America. Frank had the idea of how wonderful America was. He thought there was people with perfect teeth and that they have so much food that there is some left on the plates after dinner. He thought every family had a bathroom and every lives happily ever after. He wanted badly to one day be
able to be the man of the family and bring all of them to America so they can all live in luxury together. Frank will do anything to accomplish these goals. He works hard and ever resorts to stealing.
Frank must be commended as well for his will power and want to survive. If he didn?t start out with that then nothing could have helped him. He may not have been a strong boy physically buy psychologically he was powerful. Although Frank barely had a shirt on his back, he had something that made him rich in another way?his mind.
?Stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.?(208)
frank mcourt ANgelas ashes