The Significance of the Beginning Chapter of Frank McCourts Angelas Ashes
He is just another poor Irish boy. His story is of poverty, emotional struggles, and growing up. Have we not read about that already? Everyone thinks their childhood is unique, but do we not all have basically the same experiences? Frank McCourt experiences events similar to other children, but that fact is forgotten once the reader begins Angela’s Ashes. Actual reality becomes less important than this little boy’s perception of reality, upon which the focus is set and remains there throughout the book. McCourt is not telling the story of what happened, but rather of how the events related to his own development. He draws the reader into himself by writing in the first person and using a personal tone which always reflects his outlook. In the first chapter, he inconspicuously establishes himself as the only character in his memoir, causing the reader not to follow him through his childhood, but to become him as a child.
“People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version”(1), McCourt writes as he begins to describe the world in which he grows up. For he creates a separate world for himself, where people he knows wander in and out whenever they can hold his attention. McCourt’s world serves as a coping mechanism as well as an expression of his creativity. He surrounds himself with the depressing truth about his home and family, but brings in each morsel of truth with his own explanation, often humorous, thus exposing himself only to his interpretation of reality. McCourt’s task is to contain his world in the four hundred sixty pages of the book and to have the reader immersed by the end of the first chapter. The opening pages provide a foundation for McCourt, himself, and for his perception, enabling the reader to follow his stream-of-consciousness sentences throughout the book. He gives a flash preview of the book’s content on the first page, giving the reader an idea of what he is getting into. McCourt then abruptly interrupts himself (which becomes common throughout the book) as though he has forgotten to mention some pertinent fact, and then proceeds to introduce his parents. Although he is now writing from his parents’ point of view, the reader is quite aware that this is still McCourt’s interpretation of their story.