3Do NowWhat do we know about the author’s life thus far in the story? What adjectives would you use to describe his life? Explain.
4Do NowWhat do you think would have made Frank’s family life easier? What could his father and mother have done to provide a better life for their family?
5Do NowWhat can addiction do to a family? How does it make life difficult?
6Do NowHow do you think the McCourts’ lives will change now that they’re in Ireland? Will things be better or worse?
7Do NowHow do the McCourts’ relatives and friends in Ireland treat them? Were they better off in America?
8Do NowHow are things different in Ireland? How are they the same as life in New York?
9Do NowHow has losing children affected Angela? How do you think losing a child affects a parent, and a family as a whole?
10Do NowDo you think Malachy will ever be able to hold a job? Do you think his being from Northern Ireland really holds him back from finding employment or is it more his drinking?
11Do NowWhat do you think is going to happen now that one of Frank’s brothers is sick? How will this affect the family?
12Do NowWhy do you think McCourt titled the memoir Angela's Ashes? How would you describe his mother's presence in McCourt's childhood?
13Do NowDiscuss McCourt's experiences in school. Are you surprised to learn he became a teacher? How do you think his experiences influenced him?
14Do NowIn what ways is Angela's Ashes uplifting despite the sad situations in the story? How does McCourt produce hope through his writing?
15Do NowHow would you describe McCourt's view of the Catholic Church?
16Do NowDoes Angela's Ashes teach you anything new about Ireland?
17Do NowRate the story on a scale of What do you like about the story? What do you dislike about the way McCourt tells his story?
18Do NowMcCourt writes: ‘I think my father is like the Holy Trinity with three people in him, the one in the morning with the paper, the one at night with the stories and prayers, and then the one who does the bad thing and comes home with the smell of whiskey and wants us to die for Ireland.’Was this your impression of Frank McCourt's father? How can Frank write about his father without bitterness? What part did Malachy play in creating the person that Frank eventually became?
19Do NowWomen – in particular mothers – play a significant role in Angela's Ashes. Recall the scenes between Angela and her children; the MacNamara sisters (Delia and Philomena) and Malachy; Aunt Aggie and young Frank; Angela and her own mother. In what ways do these interactions reflect the roles of women within their families? Discuss the ways in which Angela struggles to keep her family together in the most desperate of circumstances.
20Do NowFrank spent the first four years of his life in the United States. How do his experiences in America affect Frank's years in Ireland?
21Do NowThroughout Angela's Ashes, Malachy's drinking goes from bad to worse and this deeply affects the family in a negative manner. Is Malachy's influence on his son purely negative, or does he make a positive impact as well?
22Do NowHow does McCourt interject traditional Irish rituals and mythology into Angela's Ashes?
23Do NowAs a youngster, heroes fascinate Frank. Who are these heroes and what purpose does their example serve?
24Do NowWhat do you think Angela misses about her old life? Explain.
25Do NowWhat effect do Frank’s schoolmates have on him? Explain.
26Do NowWhat is the view of America in Angela's Ashes? Explain.
27Do NowWhat role do Frank’s and his friends’ escapades play in establishing a sense of fun and vitality within the memoir? Explain.
28Do NowWhat do you think McCourt’s primary motivation was for writing his memoir? To earn the sympathy of his readers? To teach them something? Explain.
29Do NowDo you think the McCourts’ station in life will improve anytime soon? Why or why not?
30Do NowHow is Mr. O’Halloran different from Frank’s previous teachers?
31Do NowDo you think it’s fair that Malachy wants Angela to have more children? What does it tell you about the wife’s role in Irish culture?
32Do NowThe Catholic Church plays a major role in Frank McCourt's life. Discuss this role in negative and positive terms.
33Do NowWhat are the McCourts’ main struggles at this point in the novel?
34Do NowWhat street smarts are Frank’s friends teaching him? How will these experiences affect him?
35Do NowHow will Frank’s eye infection affect him in the long term? Do you think he may go blind?
36DO NowWhat do you think of Guard Dennehy’s reaction to the McCourts’ living situation? What does it tell you about how they live?
37DO NowWill anything improve for the McCourts now that Malachy is in England? Why or why not?
38DO NowHow do you think Frank feels when he sees his mother begging? How would you feel if you were him?
39DO NowWhat, if anything, could Angela do to improve her family’s circumstances?
40DO NowWhy do you think Frank and members of his family keep getting sick? What could they do to avoid illness? Is there anything they could do?
41DO NowHow do you think Angela feels about having to rely on other people to support her family? How would you feel?
42DO NowDo you think it makes sense for Frank to want to work? Or should he stay in school? Which would you prefer?
43DO NowFrank opens the book by saying that his family should have stayed in New York. Seeing how desperate things are in Ireland, what might have been different for the McCourts had they stayed in America?
44DO NowHow does the Catholic Church’s influence make Frank feel guilty for things he’s done? How does this guilt affect him?
45DO NowWhat are some comforts that are now commonplace, for example indoor plumbing, that the McCourts don’t have? Does it make you more appreciative of these things, reading about a family that does not have them?
46DO NowWhy was Frank and Uncle Pa Keating’s conversation about not taking the post office exam so important? How do you think it affects the rest of Frank’s life?
47DO NowWould you feel badly, as Frank does, for writing the threatening letters to Mrs. Finucane’s customers? Explain why or why not.
48DO NowWould you take the extra money from Mrs. Finucane the way Frank does? Do you think he’s entitled to it?
49DO NowDo you think Frank should have gone to America alone or should he have waited until he had enough money to take his brothers and mother? Explain.
50DO NowWhat do you think will happen to Frank once he gets to America?