Catholic references abound: Mick: a Catholic; predominately used as a derogatory term patron saint: a person who has died and who can be prayed to; a saint who looks after certain nations or causes Angelus: traditional Catholic prayer St Vincent de Paul Society: a Catholic aid agency Mother o’God: “Mother of God”; Mary, the mother of Jesus, venerated in Catholicism “consecrated ground”: holy ground; usually blessed by a priest Questions to Explore: Let’s pose questions together, even if we can’t answer them immediately. These could be about future plot events, terminology, historical background, etc. Activity: 1. Describe McCourt’s writing style: What perspective does he use? What is unusual about it? How would you describe his “voice”? 2. List at least 3 themes you can identify already in the text. Support your suggestions with examples from the text. 3. This story, though often bleak, contains magical childhood moments as well, balancing horrors with humour and innocence. In what ways is the story “tragi-comedy”? Chapter 2 (44-76) While Malachy and Angela are returning to Limerick, it is a Chapter of “firsts” for Frank and his brothers. Significantly, he meets his first priest (“Father”) and encounters other new terms and ideas in his “homeland”: Terminology: Communicants Dole GPO Consumption St Patrick’s snakes (and fleas!) Soupers and Quakers The River Shannon (Google Earth) Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapter 2 (77-97) As in New York, we see Francis taking on increasing responsibility in his family. His father continues to behave as he did in New York. “blaguarding” “black stuff” – Guiness Francis also begins his schooling. “master” “composition” corporal punishment Catholic education Rosary beads Questions to Explore: Eamon de Valera Michael Collins Oliver Cromwell Selected passages: Frank’s introduction to Limerick – p.44-46 Dad’s grief and Frank’s introduction to “the pint” – p.77-80 Frank’s first days at school – p.84-86 Chapter 2 Activity: 1. Describe the various pressures experienced by the family in this chapter. 2. Make a pros and cons list, identifying aspects of Frank’s father and his relationships with his family. 3. The chapter ends with a hint of hope. Based on what you have read, what hope is there for Frank and his family for a better future? Chapter 3 (98-123) • Review Setting notes re: Brooklyn and Limerick in Class Resource After the deaths of the twins and with the onset of Angela’s depression, the family move to Roden Lane. However, some aspects of the house are worse than their residence on Harstonge street. Malachy’s behaviour is the same – drinking any paycheques, etc. Angela shows signs of “false hope” (p.102). Frank learns a lot about manhood, dignity and the perils of asking questions of teachers and other authority figures. Questions to Explore: •Pope •Calcutta •Holy Communion •James Cagney •Roddy McCorley •Kevin Barry Selected passages: St Vincent de Paul visitors and the shoes – p.113-116 Easter – Dad’s lessons p.117-119 Chapter 3 Activity: 1. What are some of the things Frank does in this chapter to better help him understand the misery and confusion around him? 2. Examine Malachy’s value system: what things are undignified to him? In what ways is he hypocritical? What other examples of hypocrisy can you identify in the chapter? • Undignified – picking up coal along the road, begging, accepting free • things, not dressing up for work, barefeet at school, carrying the Pig’s head • Hypocritical – acts like he’s upper class when he’s not, he sends his children to church when he doesn’t live it (drinks, etc), he tells Frank about the angel but then laughs at him for talking to the angel Chapter 4-5 (124-167) • Google Earth – Limerick •McCourt juxtaposes the sacred and the profane throughout Angela’s Ashes. Frank receives his first communion alongside his exposure to the “sins of the flesh”: in one ear the Youngster listens to the Angel on the Seventh Step, who Prompts him to be good, and in the other he listens to the “devil”, Mikey, who tells him naughty stories. •He doesn’t explicitly criticise the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, the Church, or at least many of its adherents, comes off as hypocritical. Chapter themes: •Questions •Hypocrisy •Irish History •Malachy’s scholastic aptitude – Latin, writing, etc. Adds to the Sadness – what would his life be like without alcoholism Selected passages: Preparation for Holy Communion Chapter 6-7 (168-210) • Revisit end of Chapter 6 – Frank’s rejection for the altar boy position. He is now aged 10. Death is a familiar guest among the Irish poor – McCourt writes almost Nonchalantly about it (Mikey’s siblings, Paddy’s father). Malnutrition and unsanitary conditions are a major cause of early deaths in Ireland, making McCourt’s a story of survival (the master’s apple, other students’ scraps, Fintan’s food, cows milk). It is no accident that Mr Timoney introduces Frank to the 18th C writer Jonathan Swift’s satirical “A Modest Proposal” which proposed a macabre solution to Ireland’s hunger – eat the children. Clarifications & Themes: Euclid – ancient Greek Mathematician Education – prescriptive, repetitive (p 171) Frank’s appreciation for words (p 182) Lamenting for the past & better times – p 189 Selected passages: Visiting Paddy Clohessy’s house – p 183-186 Video – interview with Frank McCourt Chapter 8 (211-245) • Confirmation/Peter Dooley – Again McCourt juxtaposes the sacred and the profane, the religious and the “carnal” as he Continues to describe how he came to understand the world, Now as a 10 year old. •While seriously sick in hospital, Frank’s “literary life” begins With poetry and stories introduced to him by fellow patients Hospital employees. This new education again conflicts with Traditional ways. •World War 2 has begun meaning some benefits for some of their Neighbours, but Frank’s father continues to be unemployed and The family persists in their battle against unsanitary conditions, Including rats. Chapter 9-10 (246-290) Many of the same themes continue: •Malachy leaves to work in a munitions factory in England and is reported to be drinking His pay rather than sending money by telegram. (p.246-249) •Frank develops another illness, conjunctivitis, made serious by poor living conditions and not enough attention to medical treatment. His grandmother blames it on too much reading, more evidence of anti-intellectualism in Limerick. (p.256-257) •Angela develops pneumonia and, with Malachy away, Frank takes on the responsibilities of manhood by providing for his family by stealing and scavenging (p270-272) until he and his brothers are taken in by Aunt Aggie. Chapter 11 (291-310) Writing – time to answer some questions 1. Of all the themes we have studied so far, what is the Central theme of this chapter? Read about this theme in your Study notes. Give 3 of the best examples of this theme as show Chapter 11. 2. In what way is the tone of this chapter different from the previous eight? Give examples of McCourt’s language to support your opinion. 3. Describe Mr Hannon’s influence on Frank. 4. In the end, Mrs Hannon tells Frank that school is his job. What does she mean? What might make this difficult for Frank to accept? Chapter 12-13 (311-345) Laman Griffin is an imposing, enigmatic and uncomfortable figure in Frank’s 13 year-old-life through these two chapters. He is another adult male who could be viewed as a father figure, though a cruel tyrant of one. McCourt presents the fact of his mother’s affair with Laman without editorialising, leaving us to sort it out for ourselves. Perhaps Angela moves into Laman’s bed because he forces her too – he is in a position of power in the household. In this interpretation, Angela’s decision might be read as a sacrifice for her children. On the other hand, perhaps Angela is genuinely lonely for Human contact. At any rate, her relationship is uncomfortably complicated for Frank and the reader. Laman does, however, ignite a spate of reading in the household. Even Angela issues books from the Library. It takes some imagination on our part to understand how how precious the stories in books and on radio were to young Frank. Listen to the audio sample on our wiki page and try and imagine hearing them as a pre-teen in 1940s Ireland when radio was rare, there was no television, dvds, Youtube, etc. Chapter 14-15(346-381) These two chapters are largely concerned with Frank’s sexual awakening. Sex is at once irresistible and horrifying to Frank, complicated further by his mother’s relationship with Laman. Angela finds herself torn between two “men” – her son and the man who currently provides for her family. Frank is desperate for information about his physical and emotional changes – even looking in the Library which leads to yet another chastisement from an authority figure, the Librarian. Throughout, Limerick’s Catholic views on sexuality are linked to debilitating guilt and fear. The Dancing Men – p. These two chapters are largely concerned with Frank’s sexual awakening. Sex is at once irresistible and horrifying to Frank, complicated further by his mother’s relationship with Laman. Angela finds herself torn between two “men” – her son and the man who currently provides for her family. Frank is desperate for information about his physical and emotional changes – even looking in the Library which leads to yet another chastisement from an authority figure, the Librarian. Throughout, Limerick’s Catholic views on sexuality are linked to debilitating guilt and fear.