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While reading Angelas Ashes in my junior year of high school I thought about how life must have been for other families with low incomes during the
Great Depression. Although Angelas Ashes takes place mainly in Ireland during the Potato Famine, I believe that what the McCourt family went through was very similar to the struggles that the working class experienced in the United States in the 1930s. The book outlines the life of Frank McCourt being Catholic and Irish in Limerick, Ireland. Throughout Angelas Ashes the daily struggles for food, shelter, medical care and Frank McCourt describes education while he looks back on life. One small paragraph in the book stands out as very moving. In this paragraph McCourt explains his view of his childhood. He says, When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while.
Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” This paragraph not only gives his perception of growing up poor, Catholic and Irish, but also gives a little background on his general view of life from a childs eyes.
In this paper I will not only explain the significance of this book on the current media trend, but also compare and contrast McCourts life with the lives of many working class Americans during the same time period. There are many parts of the book, which I feel could be very significant in relating the main points of working class life.
I am planning on tying in articles about the Great Depression and the Potato Famine as well as giving the startling similarities. In one instance McCourt writes, No, no matter what she cant bear the thought of putting us in an orphanage. That might be all right if you had the like of Boys Town in America with a nice priest like Spencer Tracy but you could never trust the Christian Brothers out in Glin who get their exercise beating boys and starving the life out of them. Mam says theres nothing left but the Dispensary and the public assistance, the relief and shes ashamed of her life to go and ask for it. It means youre at the end of your rope and maybe one level above tinkers, knackers and street beggars in general. Frank McCourt came to the United States when he was nineteen years old and proceeded to get a college education and become an English teacher. He later wrote Angelas Ashes and won the Pulitzer Prize for this amazing book. The book was also turned into a movie, which I feel gives an even more accurate picture of growing up as poor and working class.
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