“Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir” by Frank McCourt
There is social tension between Protestant and Catholic, the affluent and the poor, and North and South Ireland. These ongoing conflicts have a significant impact on Frank’s livelihood as he grows older, as well as the way he sees the world. Frank, for instance, is raised to loathe the Northern Irish, the majority of whom are Protestants, despite having Northern Irish ancestors. This indicates the biases he suffers in his society and his standing as an outsider among his purported peers. Frank’s life was centered on issues created by social tension throughout his life.
As McCourt shows in his biography, the conflicts in England date back several decades to the early 1500s, when England has become a Protestant country. The animosity between England and Ireland grew in the following years, as England became a tremendous imperial force while Ireland remained destitute. Many people blamed England for doing less to stop the infamous Irish Potato Famine in the nineteenth century and imposing onerous and regressive taxes on Irish land. Conflicts between Protestants and Irish Catholics emerged due to the political tensions between England’s riches and power and Ireland’s poverty (McCourt).
As Catholics in Ireland, The Protestants were no different than the English. As a result of Catholicism’s prohibition on birth control, Catholic households tended to be bigger and poorer. A social gap developed due to the country’s long-standing economic, political, and cultural divisions. A substantial Catholic majority in the South and a minority, predominantly Protestant minority that was devoted to England divided Ireland after 1916.
Every facet of Frank McCourt’s boyhood reveals the strong antagonism between various types of Irish people. Malachy Sr. cannot find work in Limerick since he is both a drunkard and a Northern Irish immigrant. To be from the North, which symbolizes Protestants, England, and colonialist invasion is enough to cause resentment. Eventually, Frank learns that his Catholic parents are not allowed to utilize birth control due to their beliefs (McCourt). As the novel progresses, the McCourts got other children into their families, which they could not sustain financially. Even though they have fewer children to feed, the few Protestant households Frank knows are more successful and wealthier.
During childhood, Frank was drawn into Catholicism, South Irish culture, and impoverishment due to these conflicts. To fit in with the others in his life, he is supposed to be a Catholic and strongly anti-English. Frank realizes that the only type of person more dreaded than an enemy is someone who is disabled. In other words, he must pick a side or risk being derided as an outcast in this social conflict. For instance, co-workers and friends abandoned Frank when he declined to support a Catholic boys’ organization (McCourt). As a Northern Protestant, Frank is neither better nor worse than a Catholic living in Limerick: he refuses to participate in the organization in even the tiniest of ways.
To conclude, multiple political internal, and external conflicts led to constant social tension among the entire population. Frank, from a poor northern family, was influenced by the majority, which shaped his personality and political views. His life revolved around societal tensions throughout his whole existence. The atmosphere of constant conflict forced the family and Frank himself to experience incessant stress due to the need to adapt to society and the state with their prejudices and laws. Hence, a significant part of the conflicts and diverse issues in Frank’s life was caused by the social tension that inevitably involved each person in times of global conflict.
McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes: A memoir. Vol. 1. Simon and Schuster, 1999.