Angela’s Ashes

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The younger brother of Frank McCourt (and the sibling who’s closest in age to Frank), Malachy McCourt Jr. is a somewhat nebulous presence in Angela’s Ashes. While he’s not particularly close to Frank, the brothers get along well, looking out for each other and sharing food and money with each other whenever possible. Malachy Jr. shares Frank’s ambitions of leaving Ireland one day—indeed, he leaves the country several times, once to join the army, once to work at a private school. Although Frank considers waiting another year before leaving for America so that Malachy Jr. can go with him, he eventually decides to travel alone, leaving Malachy Jr.’s fate unclear.

Malachy McCourt Jr. Quotes in Angela’s Ashes

The Angela’s Ashes quotes below are all either spoken by Malachy McCourt Jr. or refer to Malachy McCourt Jr. . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of Angela’s Ashes published in 1999.
Chapter 10 Quotes

The three of us burst out laughing and Alphie grins with his dirty face and says Goo goo again till we're helpless and Aunt Aggie roars out of the room pulling her dress down and gives me a thump on the head that sends me against the wall baby and all. She hits Malachy too and she tries to hit Michael but he runs to the other side of her round table and she can't get at him. Come over here, she says, and I'll wipe that grin off your puss, but Michael keeps running around the table and she's too fat to catch him.

Related Characters: Frank McCourt (speaker), Malachy McCourt Jr. , Michael McCourt , Aunt Aggie , Alphonsus Joseph “Alphie” McCourt
Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:

In this amusing scene, Frank and his siblings rebel against their family in the most satisfying of ways: they outrun their Aunt Aggie, since she's too fat to catch up. Aggie is irritated that Frank and his siblings are disturbing the new baby, Alphie, but McCourt makes it clear that Aggie is overreacting—there's no reason for her to threaten to hit her nephews.

The scene is a good example of how McCourt mixes comedy and tragedy into the same family scenes. On one level, this scene is hilarious—we can picture a bunch of little kids outrunning a fat old lady. On another level, however, the scene becomes rather tragic: the children are clearly used to corporal punishment (the norm in Ireland at the time), and they're running to save themselves from pain, not just to amuse themselves. The prevalence of corporal punishment in Frank's family reminds us that the family isn't just a site of love and affection—family life can be intimidating and frightening. Aunt Aggie seems not to love her nephews in the slightest, even though she takes care of them: she's acting out of a sense of family obligation, a rigorous code that everyone in Limerick is bound to follow.

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Chapter 12 Quotes

The Irish army is looking for boys who are musical and would like to train in the Army School of Music. They accept my brother, Malachy, and he goes off to Dublin to be a soldier and play the trumpet.
Now I have only two brothers at home and Mam says her family is disappearing before her very eyes.

Related Characters: Frank McCourt (speaker), Angela Sheehan McCourt (speaker), Malachy McCourt Jr.
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

This quotation establishes the tragedy of Angela's life. As she raises her children into adulthood, she's forced to watch as they leave the town of Limerick to find work elsewhere. Here Malachy Jr. goes to Dublin, prompting Angela to mourn the "disappearance" of her family.

While's it clear enough that Angela's complaints aren't exactly reasonable—the family's life in Limerick is miserable, and any kind of escape is probably a good thing—it's easy to sympathize with what she's saying. Angela has worked phenomenally hard to take care of her children--going to charities, begging in the streets, encouraging her husband to work harder, etc. After her husband, Malachy Sr., abandons her to move to London, Angela continues to devote herself to her children. So when her children move away, Angela is understandably shaken. She can't help but compare her children to Malachy Sr.—she can't help but fear that she'll never see them again.

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Malachy McCourt Jr. Character Timeline in Angela’s Ashes

The timeline below shows where the character Malachy McCourt Jr. appears in Angela’s Ashes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...was four years old. Frank is the eldest of his siblings. He has a brother, Malachy Jr ., who is one year younger than he is, and two twin brothers, Oliver and... (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
A year after Frank was born, Angela and Malachy Sr. had another child, Malachy Jr . Frank and Malachy grew up playing around Classon Avenue in Brooklyn. One day, Frank... (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...“odd child.” Even his mother told him that he was odd, just like his father. Malachy Jr ., on the other hand, was a happy child, and always laughed at everything. Malachy... (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
Sometimes, Malachy Sr. wouldn’t come home at all. When this happened, Angela would take Frank, Malachy Jr ., Oliver, and Eugene to look for her husband. They would go from bar to... (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...his brothers, a boy named Freddie Leibowitz rushes into the playground. He starts to tell Malachy Jr . and the twins a story that Frank had told Freddie weeks before: the story... (full context)
Chapter 2
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...draws the children’s attention to a cross hanging over the fireplace. When neither Frank nor Malachy Jr . seems interested, Margaret mutters that Irish children should know about the Sacred Heart. (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
In the coming weeks, Malachy Jr . and Frank try to play with Eugene. Eugene was very close with Oliver, and... (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
After Eugene’s funeral, Frank’s life changes. He sleeps with Malachy Jr . in Eugene’s old bed, and thinks about how cold Eugene must be, buried in... (full context)
Chapter 3
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...afternoon. Meanwhile, Angela “sees” Eugene everywhere. Nevertheless, she remains a devoted mother to Frank and Malachy Jr ., and keeps going to St. Vincent de Paul to pick up used mattresses and... (full context)
Chapter 4
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...can memorize information easily, and never makes mistakes. In the evenings, he spends time with Malachy Jr . and Mikey. He realizes that the Molloys are just like his family—complete with a... (full context)
Chapter 5
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...for the rest of her life, fit badly, and make her mouth “clack.” One evening, Malachy Jr . steals the false teeth and sticks them in his own mouth—but then finds he... (full context)
Chapter 7
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...his parents that Angela has given birth to a new baby—he now has three siblings, Malachy Jr ., Michael, and the new child, baptized Alphonsus Joseph or “Alphie.” Malachy Sr.’s father sends... (full context)
Chapter 8
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...hospital. Angela tells him that he’ll have to repeat the 5th form with his brother Malachy Jr ., since he’s missed two months of school. Frank is glum about going to classes... (full context)
Chapter 9
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
Angela takes her four children (Frank, Malachy Jr ., Alphie, and Michael) to the Dispensary Office early one morning. She greets Coffey and... (full context)
Chapter 12
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...pity Michael—he’s too old to play with Alphie and too young to be close with Malachy Jr . or Frank. One of Frank’s only comforts during this time is the radio that... (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...of Frank’s uncles and aunts—as a result, their children have to be sent to orphanages. Malachy Jr . volunteers to be a musician in the Irish army, and he’s sent off to... (full context)
Chapter 15
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...relief payments, and Frank has to give his weekly pound to his mother. Shortly afterwards, Malachy Jr . comes home from Dublin, claiming that he’s “fed up” with blowing a trumpet in... (full context)
Chapter 17
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...and slowly, he saves money with the goal of moving to America one day. Meanwhile, Malachy Jr . gets a job working in a stockroom. Angela has begun a job taking care... (full context)
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...on, Frank wins Mr. McCaffrey’s respect for his hard work and attention to detail. Meanwhile, Malachy Jr . goes to England to work in a boarding school, but he’s soon fired for... (full context)
Chapter 18
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...having second thoughts about his journey—perhaps it would be better for him to wait until Malachy Jr . can come to America with him. But whenever Frank has doubts about his choice,... (full context)