book’s author, narrator, and protagonist. As the teller of his own
life story, McCourt writes from the perspective of an adolescent
looking out onto the world rather than as an adult looking back
on his childhood. McCourt’s memoir therefore maintains a voice and
perspective rich with the enthusiasm, tenderness, and determination
of a young man.
in-depth analysis of Frank McCourt.
“Mam” is humorous and loving, not overbearing or self-pitying, despite
her difficult life. As Angela deals with her husband’s alcoholism,
the deaths of three of her children, and the necessity of begging
for handouts from aid agencies, her expectations disintegrate. Despite
the painful thwarting of her own hopes, Angela always considers
her children and their welfare above all else.
in-depth analysis of Angela McCourt.
Malachy McCourt (Sr.)
Malachy is an alcoholic who spends his wages and
dole money on drink while his children starve. McCourt’s treatment
of his father remains masterfully evenhanded. He reveals not only
the despair inflicted on the family by Malachy’s drinking, but also
the obvious love between Malachy and his sons.
in-depth analysis of Malachy McCourt (Sr.).
Malachy McCourt (Jr.)
Frank’s younger brother by one year. Malachy is
named after his father. He is more physically attractive than Frank,
and manages to charm his way into the hearts of cantankerous people.
Oliver and Eugene McCourt
Frank’s younger twin brothers. They die within several
months of one another, shortly after the McCourts arrive in Limerick.
Their deaths devastate Angela, who is already grieving over the
loss of her baby girl, Margaret.
Frank’s second youngest brother, born in Limerick,
whom Frank believes was left by an angel on the seventh step of
sister and Frank’s miserly aunt. Aunt Aggie initially resents the
McCourt children. Although she never ceases to be rude and unpleasant,
she proves her loyalty to the family by helping them through tough
warm and caring uncle. Pa Keating bolsters Frank’s confidence and
encourages him to follow his own instincts in adulthood.
brother and Frank’s uncle. Uncle Ab was dropped on his head as a
child, which damaged his brain. Frank moves in with Ab when he fights
with his mother and Laman Griffin.
helps the McCourts whenever she can, although she remains suspicious
of Malachy Sr.’s northern Irish roots and insists that Frank has
inherited his father’s “odd manner.”
cousin and lover for a short time. Frank has a fight with Laman
that causes Frank to move in with his Uncle Ab.
The MacNamara sisters
Angela’s cousins who live in New York. The MacNamara
sisters are bossy, burly women who keep their husbands in check
and interfere in everyone else’s business.
old eccentric to whom Frank reads Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay
“A Modest Proposal.” Mr. Timoney becomes a close friend of Frank’s,
in part because he respects Frank and treats him like an adult.
A seventeen-year-old consumptive girl with whom
Frank has a sexual relationship. Frank desperately worries about
the fate of Theresa’s immortal soul, which he thinks he is jeopardizing
by having premarital sex with her.
Hannon is Angela’s neighbor in Roden Lane and her favorite confidante.
Bridey gives her friend much-needed support and empathy. Bridey’s
father is Mr. Hannon, whom Frank grows to love like a father after
the old man gives him his first job delivering coal.
A young diphtheria patient whom Frank meets in the
hospital while he is recovering from typhoid. Patricia reads poems
to Frank and jokes with him.
hospital janitor who helps Frank and Patricia communicate, and who
later recites poetry to Frank in the eye hospital.
Mrs. Brigid Finucane
The old woman to whose debtors Frank writes threatening
boss at Easons, Ltd., a company that imports and distributes Protestant
newspapers from Northern Ireland.
Molloy is Frank’s cross-eyed school friend who has fits and is an
expert on sex-related topics. Mikey’s father, Peter, is famous as
the champion pint drinker of Limerick, while his mother, Nora, is
well-known for her frequent visits to the insane asylum. Like Angela,
Nora worries about how she will feed her family when her husband
drinks away all his money.
friend of Frank’s who shares many adventures with him.
school friend of Frank’s who lives in unbearable squalor as a child,
but who eventually moves to England in order to earn more money
for his family.
headmaster and teacher during his final year at school. “Hoppy”
encourages Frank to go to America
and find good employment rather than stay in a dead-end job in Ireland.
hunchbacked friend who wants to work for the BBC as a radio newsreader.