In "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt are there any literary devices like allusions, irony, parallelism, or symbolism?

1 Answer
Nov 2, 2017

Yes! See explanation.


Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt consists of many themes and motifs like most of his memoirs; however, if you look deeper, you can find all the literary devices you're looking for!

Allusions: Frank seeks comfort in written works such as Shakespeare and old Irish tunes important to his family. This can allude to his morose personality. Lines are songs are used repeatedly throughout the memoir to amplify how he feels. There are also religious undertones. Frank mentions Jesus and how he believes that even the almighty Lord wouldn't enjoy living where he is because Limerick is gloomy and damp.

Irony: Frank's father is a drunk and he will often drink the family's money away then continue to go on about how Ireland is in famine, civil war, etc. This is ironic because as he's spending the family's money and leaving his children to starve, he's talking about how Ireland is experiencing all of these horrific things, but he's actually part of the problem and growing onto it. Originally, Frank feels guilty for his sexual behaviors, but once he's in America, he sleeps with a woman and he's not guilty about it anymore. It's as if that weight fell from his shoulders. New land, new him.

Parallelism: At the beginning of the memoir, Frank tells us that he should've stayed in New York. New York had poor conditions, but Ireland was bad too. The Depression and WWII has made both locations horrific. Time after time, Malachy Sr. promises to make a decent wage for his family, but the money soon turns into alcohol.

Symbolism: Ashes, of course! The title suggests a symbol. Angela's actual ashes come from her cigarettes. This is to represent her lack of hope and crushed morale. The River Shannon is also a big one. It had once been a gloomy reminder of Limerick's intolerable state, but it soon turns into a symbol of hope for him once he decides he'll use it to get to the Atlantic Ocean where he'll traverse across it to reach the United States of America.