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.