Monday, March 7, 2011

Response to Angela's Ashes

Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish catholic Childhood.
When I first read this line from "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt, I paused to think about my childhood. I had never had thought that my childhood was miserable. Not perfect, but not miserable. I didn't believe that any childhood could really genuinely be miserable. That is, until I read "Angela's Ashes."
Angela's Ashes is a memoir about Frank McCourt's childhood in Limerick, Ireland. There, he dealt with starvation, illness, deaths of siblings, a drunk father, a difficult school, taunting classmates, and terrible conditions, but he still manages to tell the story of it in such an amusing, lively way. I did not understand how someone who had been through a childhood so horrible could be so happy about it. While I was thinking about this, my brother asked me a question:
"Why do bad things happen to good people?"
I wasn't exactly sure how to answer that question at first. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that if everything was always perfect, we wouldn't have any reason to become better people. After considering that some more, I thought again about my childhood. Every childhood is miserable, maybe just not as miserable as Frank McCourt's. To quote Angela's Ashes once again:
"The happy childhood is hardly worth your while."
When Frank McCourt grew up and came back to New York (where he was born), he was able to appreciate how much he had in life all the more after going through such tough times. He could finally  appreciate all of the little things he had gained since his experiences in Limerick. In some ways, misery really does makes people better. Without misery, there would be nothing to appreciate about life.
Angela's Ashes is one of my favorite books. 

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