How does Frank's character progress throughout Angela's Ashes?

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Frank (the protagonist and author) emotionally progresses through the memoir following a classic bildungsroman structure. This is a German version of the “coming-of-age story” that evolved out of folktales about vulnerable children seeking their fortunes. Full maturity is the end result of these stories. Through the main character’s mistakes, they...

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Frank (the protagonist and author) emotionally progresses through the memoir following a classic bildungsroman structure. This is a German version of the “coming-of-age story” that evolved out of folktales about vulnerable children seeking their fortunes. Full maturity is the end result of these stories. Through the main character’s mistakes, they learn about the world, enabling them to adapt to society—becoming a mature adult.

There are many variations of the bildungsroman, and it should be noted that when literally translated, the word means “education book.”

The first example of the bildungsroman’s tropes comes when the story begins with Frank leaving home after a devastating emotional blow: the death of his sister and the family leaving Brooklyn, bound for Ireland.

Once Frank reaches Ireland, the memoir follows him through trials and tribulations (such as different living situations and illnesses, along with his time at school and church) on his way to adulthood and full maturity.

In the bildungsroman, maturity can often be seen in some form of giving back to the community where the protagonist came from. We see this in Angela’s Ashes when it is made clear that Frank will become a teacher. This same plot point is something we also see in the “hero’s journey,” another common story structure that can easily be laid over this memoir to show other aspects of Frank’s progress to maturity. Frank returning to America, where his story begins, can be seen as the completion of the hero’s journey.

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Yikes! Good question!

The character of Frank McCourt, in the autobiographical novel Angela's Ashes, changes significantly as the story progresses.

We first see Frank in a dependent role as the U.S born son of Irish immigrants who came to New York as a basic experiment. He is taken back to Ireland and goes back of welfare, poverty, rejection, and the psychological abuse that he endures during his childhood years, both at home and in school.

His adolescence is no picnic either. He witnesses the abandonment of his father, the "selling off" of his mother to a far cousin for the sake of having a place to stay, living as a peasant in his household, and beginning to feel the force of rebellion building upon his mind- which is a very prosperous one, to say the least.

We witness his first love- a girl with a terminal case of tuberculosis- and his self discovery: He has to return to America. Once there he discovers his second big thing: He has acquired his father's own drinking disease. Just before he sees himself becoming Frank Senior, he tries to change.

In America, where he works as a cook in New York city, he mingles with Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and faces the reality of working in places which post outside their doors signs such as "No dogs, no Irish, no Puerto Ricans, no blacks" while these were the very people (except for the dogs :) ) working in the back of the kitchens.

Overall, the story aims to show how, at all times, Frank kept the teachings of his mother close to his heart: Do not allow anyone to humiliate him-stay alert-and, above all, survive.

Up until the end of the novel we can appreciate that Frank McCourt has a consistent flow in his narrative: Thankfulness. This is why, in the end, when they asked him whether America was a great country, he answered in his natural brogue the phrase which would become the title of his next novel" " 'Tis ".

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