LEARN FROM A BOOK – ANGELA’S ASHES

BOOK TITLE: ANGELA’S ASHES; A MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR: FRANK McCourt

“WHO HAS WOE?”

Addiction to alcohol is the root of many societal ills and life’s tragedies. Many cases of reckless driving and ghastly motor accidents are as a result of drunk driving. Countless Innocent pedestrians have had their lives abruptly terminated by drunk hit and run drivers. Abuse of alcohol is a destructive way of life.

Some addicts don’t end up dead, they just lose their minds. They stop their cars in the middle of nowhere and collapse in deep slumber right behind their wheels. Those who have no cars wobble on feet in limbo, feet that sometimes do not make it back home from the drinking joints; feet that lead them straight into the nearest stinking gutter and there, deposit their waste of a body.

Some men drink and become monsters. Consumed by alcohol triggered rage, they throw their fists at anyone in sight. Complaining wives, embarrassed children, nosy or concerned neighbors, are all targets and victims of such fists.

Manufacturers of alcoholic beverages advice consumers to drink responsively but this moral advice fall on deaf ears for many who abuse alcohol.

In “Angela’s Ashes”, Frank McCourt described an Ireland where drinking is a revered tradition amongst men. Young boys are initiated into the pub life as soon as they turn sixteen, and that is as good as a rite of passage for them into the macho world of men. However, one’s drinking life is not an accepted excuse to become a nuisance. To which I argue that if you do become a nuisance, why should anybody blame you, after all, prevention is better than cure.

In this book, Frank’s father, Malachy, has a drinking problem which served as the root of all evil in the story. No, the other characters were not saints. Angela’s mother for instance should be blamed for giving up on her daughter as useless, and withdrawing from her maternal responsibility to painstakingly encourage and help her child develop the inner strength needed to fit productively into the society. Taking the easy way out by sending Angela off to America where, according to her, “there’s room for all sorts of uselessness”, turned out to be a terrible mistake. And as for Angela, she should be blamed for her lack of self control. Having reckless sex with a total stranger at touchdown in America was rather careless. And her aunts should be blamed for disregarding the fact that Malachy was no husband material. They shouldn’t have forced him to marry their niece just because he had planted a child in her womb without due process!

But of all the sins, the sin of Malachy McCourt is the greatest because of his addiction to alcohol. Though naïve, Angela was prepared to make the best of a bad situation by willing to settle down to a life of wife and mother. As for Malachy, he had a first love that wasn’t willing to share him with another.

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who go in search of mixed wine”. Proverbs 23 vs. 29-30.

Malachy went in search of mixed wine. Every dime he earned paid for his trips to the pub even though there were important bills to clear. Angela was always at home with the children, waiting, praying, and hoping that Malachy would do the right thing whenever it was pay day. The children were hungry, they were getting sick, and they were dying. The future looked absolutely bleak, but Malachy cared more about his liquor. The saddest thing about the situation was that Malachy remained devoted to the bottle to the very end.

Frank McCourt did the strangest thing; he told a sad tale and almost took away my right to cry. Frank was so funny, I was reading a sad book and I was laughing. But as soon as I turned the last page, and I put the book down, a strong urge for sober reflection settled on me.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise”, Proverbs 20 vs. 1.
The McCourt’s’ family would have had honor instead of shame. They would have had happiness instead of pain. There would have been no death in the family, if Malachy had not been constantly overpowered by his desire for alcohol.

Dear FOJ,

“do not look on the wine when it is red, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and it stings like a viper, your eyes will see strange things and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: “they have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it, when shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” Proverbs 23 vs. 31-35

Yours Truly,

Moni.