What could be a potential thesis for a literary essay on Angela's Ashes, focusing on McCourt's writing style?

- No quotations, which makes it difficult to identify the speaker

- The innocent tone used throughout the memoir

- Slang (i.e. words are spelled as though they were being pronounced with an Irish accent)

- Various songs and poems placed throughout the memoir. This takes away from the ongoing negative mood.

Quick answer:

In Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt Injects humor into somber story of growing up in Ireland. McCourt, Frank Sharing grade: _______ Not that long. I got a B. If you want to know the rest of it do this: 1. Answer my question 2. Post it here and I will tell you what I think 3. Post the whole essay if you like and I'

Expert Answers

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From the points you mention, it seems as though you are veering towards an argument about how the tone of the memoir undercuts and lightens the dark subject matter. Frank McCourt describes an Irish childhood of utter destitution: his family is poor beyond poor, not even having enough to eat. Yet this memoir reads as a humorous tale, not a tear-jerking story of woe. How can that be? You point to the way: McCourt makes the horrible humorous and light-hearted. For instance, McCourt uses slang, an innocent tone, songs and poems to brighten the atmosphere. You are arguing that these elements are not incident or accidental, but integral to creating the mood he is trying to convey.

A possible thesis, and you would want to finesse this or rewrite it to suit your own needs, is the following: In Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt uses slang, songs, poems, an innocent tone, and fast paced dialogue that doesn't stop to identity speakers to inject humor into a somber story of growing up poor in 1930s Ireland.

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Concerning your question about Angela's Ashes, I suggest you assert in your thesis what the details you mention contribute to the novel.  In other words, your research question might be:  what purpose do the elements you mention serve?

For instance:

The speaker's use of an innocent tone, Irish dialect, and Irish songs and poetry contribute to/establish/reflect/provide background for the setting of the work.  (You choose.)


The speaker's use of an innocent tone,...contribute to the theme.


The speaker's use of an innocent tone,...provide unity in the work.

You can take any angle you want that you can provide evidence for.  Analyze the elements you mention and determine what their effect is on the novel, and declare that in your thesis.

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