Friday, October 26, 2007

Week 6, part 2 (essay)

A Troublesome Childhood

The life that we are living today seems so complicated at times. We have most of the things we need in order to survive, but yet we always seem to “need” more and more. Frank McCourt probably would give anything in order to live the way we live today. Throughout his childhood, his basic needs for survival were hardly met, which led to a dysfunctional family life, and many other social problems among the family. Frank McCourt wrote the memoir Angela’s Ashes using tone, imagery, and figurative language to show the struggles his family went through while he was growing up in Ireland.
To begin, Frank McCourt used tone in several ways throughout the text of his memoir to show people the struggles he went through during his childhood in Ireland. An example of this is when Frank is talking to the men from St. Vincent de Paul.
They want to know why it isn’t in the back of the house and I tell them it’s the only lavatory on the lane and it’s a good thing its not in the back of the house or we’d have people traipsing through our kitchen with buckets that would make you sick. (103).
This quote shows an example of humorous tone used in the novel. This shows that even though Frank knew he had a very tough life, he always was able to make light of a situation, and always look beyond it and know that eventually things will get better. This shows one of Frank’s struggles because there is only one bathroom for the entire neighborhood. This is not a healthy way of living, and many diseases can be contracted from sharing an outhouse with the entire neighborhood. Throughout the novel, Frank also uses many other types of tone, but humorous was one of the more prominent types of tone portrayed throughout the memoir.
Frank McCourt uses imagery to show that his struggles in life. To be more specific, an example of this is when Frank is trying to find food to feed his younger brothers. He says; “I tell Malachy I’ll be back in a minute. I make sure no one is looking, grab a bunch of bananas outside the Italian grocery shop and run down Mertyle Avenue…” (32). This quote shows struggles of Frank’s life by using imagery to paint a picture in our minds of how hungry the children must be, and how desperate they are to find food for themselves. Being hungry was one of the major struggles that Frank had to deal with for a long time as a child, which is one of the reasons why he probably would give anything to live as we do today.
In Angela’s Ashes, figurative language is used to demonstrate many of the struggles that Frank and his family encountered daily and had to overcome in order to survive. An example of when figurative language is used in this memoir is when Frank uses a hyperbole. He uses this to describe his mother’s reaction to the fact that he didn’t like the baby’s name. “Mam slaps me across the face and sends me flying across the kitchen.” (182). Clearly, Frank did not fly all the way across the kitchen, but he is exaggerating. He probably fell backwards a few steps. This is one example that demonstrates a struggle from Frank’s childhood. He must always please his mother, in order to avoid being slapped across the face. His mother was always stressed out about money, the babies, or other situations of this importance. If mom wasn’t happy, the family would suffer. Frank used several other types of figurative language in this memoir to show struggles of his everyday life as a child.
I believe that Frank McCourt wrote Angela’s Ashes to let the reader know of the hardships he went through as a kid, and how much times have changed since that time period. He did this by using tone, imagery and figurative language. One example used to help this conclusion to be drawn is when Frank was using humorous tone to express the reason why the lavatory was in the front of the house, rather than the back. Another is when Frank uses imagery to show that the family was so desperate for food, that Frank was willing to steal from an Italian grocery store. The third and final example used to draw the conclusion that Frank wrote this memoir to show the struggles of his childhood was when Frank uses a hyperbole (part of figurative language) to describe a time when his mother slapped him across the face. He says he flew across the room, but in reality it was probably only a few feet. Frank McCourt wrote this novel to show the struggles he went through as a child. In our society, the way Frank grew up was bizarre and unfortunate, but realistically, it is probably happening in other places of the world, right now. As Americans, we are very lucky to be able to live the lives we do.

Angela's Ashes, week 6, part 1

Frank turns 14. When he shows up for his first day on the job, or so he thought, he realizes that his real first day isn't until the following Monday. The people at the post office laugh at him because his clothes are old and torn, so he went out with his aunt and they bought him new clothes. The first day on the job, Frank finds out that he is a temporary worker and can't stay at this job after he is 16 years old. He delivers a telegram, and gets his first pay. He is happy because he is able to tell his little brother that he can buy fish and chips and lemonade, instead of rummaging for a slice of bread. Frank decides to set aside some money from each payday so that he can go to America when he gets older. Frank stays with Ab Sheehan during the school year, with Michael. Angela moves in with them, as well as Malachy, because he is back from Dublin. Frank is very happy because most of the family has been reunited. Frank is assigned to deliver a telegram to a girl named Theresa. When he gets there, he had fallen off of his bike, so he was bloody, as well as wet because it was raining. Theresea helps him get cleaned up, and then they end up having sex. Frank sees Theresa for weeks after that, and when Theresa isnt sick, they have sex on her couch. One day Frank is delivering a telegram to Theresa's mother, and realizes that Theresa had been in the hospital and died. He is afraid that she is in Hell, and that is where he is headed, so he goes to confessions, and begs for forgiveness for both him and Theresa. Frank is assigned to deliver a telegram to an old woman, and agrees to help her write strongly worded letters to her debtors, in return for a little bit of money. When Frank is about ready to take the test to become a permanent worker at the post office delivering telegrams, he is talked out of it. He is told that he will have a wife, five kids, and will be out of his mind by the time he is 30. He doesnt want this, so he takes a job delivering newspapers. On Frank's 16th birthday, Pa Keating takes him to the pub, because Frank's father is not in the picture anymore. Frank gets extremely drunk and when he goes home he tells Angela that he knows she has been sleeping with Laman Griffin, and picks a fight with her. He slaps her, and afterwards feels bad about it. The next day, Frank goes to church and talks to Father Gregory. He tells him about everything that he has done wrong, and everything that is troubling him. He finds out that since God has forgiven him, he must forgive himself. During this same time, Malachy works for a Catholic school, but is soon fired because he acts happy, rather than demoralized. He then moves to England and gets a new job, and is anxious to join Frank in his trip to America. Frank spends three more years delivering newspapers and writing nasty letters for the old woman. The old woman eventually dies. By this time, Frank has saved up enough money to book his trip to America. The night before he leaves, the McCourt family throws him a "going away party." When Frank gets on the ship headed for America, he realizes how much he misses his family and country. This changes soon. When he gets to America, his ship is re-routed and when it lands, he ends up going to a party, and having sex with a girl named Frieda. Now Frank thinks this is the greatest country ever.

The Sea Inside, post 3

* An eye level shot is used several times in this film. One example of when it was used was when Ramon was sitting in his bed, looking up at one of his care-takers. This is significant to the meaning of the movie because this is the way Ramon looks at people throughout the whole movie. He has to look up at them, becaue of his situation, laying in bed.

*Another shot used in this movie a low angle. This was when Ramon was having a flashback of the day he became a paraplegic. He is standing on the top of a cliff, looking down at the water. The camera though, was at the bottom of the cliff, making Ramon look big, and powerful. This is significant to the message the director was sending because he wanted to show that Ramon felt that nothing would hurt him, or get in the way of him living his life to the fullest, when, in reality, he was wrong.

*When people walk in and out of Ramon's room, the film-makers use tracking/dollying. They use this by following the character all the way across the room, as if the camera was that person. This is significant to the meaning, because it shows how often Ramon is visited, and how much his family and friends care for him.

* Ramon has a dream that he jumps out of a window, and flies. In this dream, the flim-makers use a sequence of a long shot, medium shot, and a close up. The long shot is when he initially jumps out the window, the medium shot is when he is falling towards the ground, and the close up is of the ground, when Ramon almost hits it, but then flies upwards. This is significant to the message the director was trying to send because it showed what we thought was Ramon committing suicide, but then changing his mind. This showed the thought process of Ramon during the 28 years he has been living in this condition.

*An oblique angle is used in this movie was when Julia is having a heart attack on the stairs. The camera is at an angle, to try to put the viewer in Julia's position, and seem like they were right there with her. This is important to the message of this movie because it shows that bad things happen to good people sometimes.

* A tilt is used when they are in the courtroom, appealing for Ramon to be able to have assisted suicide. They scan from the top, down, in the courtroom to show how many people showed up to hear Ramon's case. This is significant because it shows how many people supported, or at least were interested in Ramon's case, and plea.

There were many film techniques used in this movie that were significant to the meaning, and the director was trying to portray through the film.

The Sea Inside, post 2

The Sea Inside compares with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly in many ways. One way the two are similar is that both of the main characters are quadriplegics. Also, both characters are miserable in the life they are now forced to live because of unfortuante events that occured in their life. Also, both of them feel that they might be better off dead. Another similarity is that the main characters both wrote a book, expressing their feelings about their condidtion and telling people what their situation was like. The Sea Inside and The Diving Bell and The Butterfly also have differences. In The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby becomes a quadriplegic because of a stroke, and in The Sea Inside, Ramon becomes paralyzed because of an accident while swimming. Another difference between the two is the care-taking. For Jean-Dominique, he is taken care of in the hospital, by hospital staff, while his family comes to visit occasionally. Ramon, on the other hand, is taken care of by his family in his brother and sister-in-law's house. A third and final difference between the two is that in the end, after their books had been published, they both died, but in different ways. Jean Dominique died because it was just his time to go, and Ramon died because he commit suicide.

In my opinion, the Sea Inside was more powerful because it really showed how miserable Ramon was, and how badly he wanted to die. Also, his family and friends were by his side all the time and I saw their emotions toward Ramon.

The Sea Inside, post 1

My general reaction/response to the film was that it made me feel bad for everybody in that situation. I felt bad for Ramon, because of his situation and how miserable it was. I also felt bad for everybody taking care of Ramon, because even though he probably is thankful, the family doesn't always see it because he is always talking about how he would rather be dead. I was kind of neutral about Ramon's request for assisted suicide because even though the condition he is in is hard for him to deal with, he should try to look at the positive side of things, and feel lucky that he is even alive. I think the court's response to him was probably a good idea because if they let somebody help him commit suicide, they might feel guilty, or could possibly get other people in trouble. His eventual actions of assisted suicide was a bittersweet moment. I felt sad that he was dead, but happy that he was finally taken away from his pain and misery. I think that the people who chose to help him commit suicide must have been really good friends to him. They must have loved him so much that they would be willing to help kill him, in order for him to finally be happy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Week 5

Frank makes a band with his brother and his friend Billy. He cuts out hearts from one of his mom's dresses and uses them to make part of the band's uniforms. While he is looking for the dress, he finds his birth certificate and it says he was born 6 months after his parents got married, and wonders if he is a love child. Frank has a neighbor named Mr. Hannon. He needs help delivering coal to make a living, so Frank helps him. One day Frank's eyes got really irritated because of the dust from the coal, and Angela wouldn't let him work. Mr. McCourt comes home for Christmas, and after coming home a day late, the only gift he gives the family a half eaten box of chocolates. By this time, Angela owes rent for many many weeks. They have to conserve energy and burn one of the walls in order to make firewood to keep the family warm, beceause they have no other way to pay for anything. One of the boys knocks the beam that holds the ceiling up, and the ceiling starts to collapse. The landlord see's all of the damage that has been done, and evicts the family. The family then goes to live with Angela's cousin, who is pretty stable, financially. When they get their, her cousin's husband makes Angela clean his chamber pot, which is very embarrassing. Also, the family continues to fall apart. Grandma dies, Uncle Tom and his wife die, and Malachy leaves for the Army School of Music. Frank goes to the library quite frequently. The Librarian realizes how intelligent he is, and tells this to Angela. She also says that he should continue school. Angela then takes him to a Catholic school to ask about schooling, but the priest says there is no room there for Frank. Frank then gets a job as a telegram messenger. This job seems intriguing to him.

My reaction to this chapter is that it is very sad, and the family’s luck continues to go downhill. The McCourt family seems to have only encountered sad times throughout Frank’s life, at least this far into the memoir. His father continues to be an alcoholic, the family is still short on money, and still moving from place to place. Even reading about the conditions his family lived in disgusts me. I cannot even imagine living the way they did; with lice in the house, my mother being sick all the time, my family members dying, not being able to pay the rent, etc. I think the McCourt family, (or what’s left of them) must have been very strong in order to deal with all of this. Somehow they always seem to get through the tough times and in many situations look at the positive side of things. I give them a lot of credit for this, because given their situation; it would be easy to be pessimistic. This memoir uses very good imagery. Sometimes I feel like I am living in the same world that the McCourts are living. I find myself feeling sorry for the family, and wishing there was something I could do to help them. So far, this book has kept my attention, for the most part, but it is so detailed that sometimes I get a little side-tracked.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Week 4, post 2

In the beginning of this section, Frank and is friend are invited over to one of their classmate's house for lunch. Instead of him feeding them, he just sat in the corner and ate his sandwich. Frank and his friend then skipped the rest of the day of school and stole apples and other food from the local grocery store. Frank gets scared and stays with his friend for the night. Angela gets mad because she has been worried sick about him. Frank has a friend named Mickey, who started off with a lot of siblings, but slowly, one by one, they die of consumption. Frank is jealous because when each of his siblings dies he gets a week off of school, and many other nice things. When his little sister becomes sick, he tells Frank that he will be invited to the wake, and miss school. This does not happen. Then Mickey gets sick and dies, and Frank is somewhat happy because now he doesn't have to be jealous of him. Frank's Grandma insists that he helps his uncle deliver newspapers. Frank agrees, but soon regrets it. His uncle mistreats Frank because when its raining, Frank has to deliver the papers, and doesn't pay him well at all. While he delivers papers, he gets to know Mr. Timoney. He reads to Mr. Timoney to make a little extra money for his family. He soon becomes friends with him. The next summer comes along, and Angela has another baby. This time a boy. The baby almost chokes to death, right before its baptism, but a friend saves it. Frank gets confirmed, but a few days later is diagnosed with Typhoid fever. He knows he will live though, because the doctor farted in front of him, and if he were really dying, the doctor wouldn't have farted. Frank thinks about his father. Sometimes he likes him, and other times he doesn't. The bathroom outside of the McCourt's front door is beginning to smell very bad, and now their house is infested with rats and flies. The Father decides to go to England to work for a factory. The boys' mother then promises an egg a week, which seems like the best thing in the world. The only problem with this is that Malachy never sends any money to the family. Angela gets sick with pneumonia and is taken to the hospital while the boys stay with their grandmother and their aunt. Their aunt is abusive to the boys.

Week 4, post 1

"That's right, no hope in heaven for the infant that's not baptized."- Frank McCourt's grandmother, page 182.

This quote is important to the book because Frank's grandmother is a very religious Catholic.
Anything that happens, according to her, is a work of God. If you do something wrong, you better go to confessions. She does not like people who are not Catholics, or people who say they are but do not act like it. This is huge in this memoir because even when her own family does something that other Catholics might not agree with, she does not associate with them, whatsoever.

Another Quote that is important in this memoir is; "Dad, you're not to go to the pub. Mam said you're bring home the money. You're not to drink the pint."- page 183

This was said by Malachy, Frank McCourt's younger brother. This is very important to the book because the father is an alcoholic and loses jobs quickly because of it. When he is able to maintain a job, he usually spends the money at a bar, instead of buying food, etc for his family.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly- reflection

In my opinion, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was overall a good book. It had a lot of intriguing similes and imagery throughout the memoir. The struggles that Jean-Dominique Bauby went through were incredibly sad. The way he described what it was like to be a paraplegic, and stuck in your own body, made me realize how lucky I am. I am able to do simple tasks such as get myself dressed in the morning, walk around and eat, which to Jean-Dominique Bauby were big events in his daily routine. It also made me notice that when he had his stroke he really wished he could have done so much more with his life, or even just taken out a little extra time to capture all of the moments he had, while he could. It was one of his goals in life to write a book, and it wasn’t until after his stroke that he realized he could do it. He focused all of his energy on this book, and it was basically his reason for living during this rough time in his life. I admire him for this, and the fact that he kept looking on the positive side for most of the book made me like this memoir a lot.
Though I thought this book was interesting, I thought parts of it were very hard to follow. I thought this because sometimes it would jump from a dream, back to real life, to another dream, etc. It really made me think about what I was reading, and why he would tell about those dreams, etc. and how they contributed to his story. Also, Jean-Dominique Bauby mentioned many people during this fairly short book, so at times it was hard to keep the characters straight.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Week 3, part 2

Angela's Ashes has many strengths and weaknesses. One strengh is the use of terms and vocab in this book. The vocab in this book vividly describes the situations that Frank and his family are going through. Another strengh of this book is the imagery that is created. It really makes you feel like you are right there, living the situations with him and his family. There are also weaknesses in this book. During some parts of this book, it is a bit choppy and you lose the sense of "flowiness" and it is hard to follow. Some of the issues brought up in this book are very sad, but also seem very real. An example of this is the alcoholic father. This is a very sad thing, but i know it happens in real life. A person who lives a few streets away from me is an alcoholic and i know that sometimes the family has to reach out on a limb in order to eat that weak, or even get to school. I predict that the familys problems will only continue to get worse, and considering the title of the book, i am predicting that Angela (the mother) will die in the end. I also predict that the fathers alcoholism will only continue to get worse.

Week 3, part 1


Frank McCourt is going through the process of his First Communion at his church. His new teacher is named Mr. Benson and teaches him catechism. One of the boys in his class named Mikey Molloy tells him a story about "Cuchulain’s wife, Emer, who was the “champion woman pisser of Ireland” and won her husband in a pissing contest." Frank was very worried that he had committed the worst sin there was, so he went to confessions. He ended up showing up late for his Communion, had a hard time swallowing the wafer, and ends up throwing it up in his Grandma's backyard. Frank's family doesnt end up getting along very well...his grandmother doesn’t speak to his mother, his mother doesn’t talk to her siblings, his father doesn’t talk to Angela's family, and no one talks to his uncle’s wife. His parents had to go to the dentist and get fake teeth because they were constant smokers. Also, Frank finds out he needs to be rushed to the hospital to get his tonsils removed. Later on in the chapter Angela signs Frank up for Irish Dance Lessons. He gets embarrased by this. He tells his mom he is going to his dance lessons, when really he is ditching them. Malachy wants Frank to be an alter boy, but Angela thinks it wouldnt work out because he hardly has clothes decent enough for school, let alone church.

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt was born on August 19th, 1931, in Brooklyn, New York. This was the time of the depression, and his family had a hard time dealing with it in Brooklyn, so they decided to move back to their home country of Ireland. His father was an alcoholic, who used his weekly wages to purchase alcohol, often leaving no money for his family. This meant that they had to go without food for the week, or borrow from the grocery store, promising to repay them. This also left his father without a job, more than once. 3 of the 7 kids in his family died because of diseases caused by malnutrition. He quit school when he was 13 to work, to try to feed his family. Then he was drafted by the Army. He attended New York University, even though he never attended high school. He taught in New York schools, for about 27 years. He is still living today, telling the stories of his childhood, and accepting rewards for his memoir “Angela’s Ashes.”