Angela’s Ashes

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Frank McCourt’s younger brother. While Frank isn’t particularly close with Michael McCourt—indeed, he pities Michael for being too young to spend time with him and too old to spend time with Alphie, the baby of the family—Frank generously gives Michael money and food during his time working for the Limerick telegram office.

Michael McCourt Quotes in Angela’s Ashes

The Angela’s Ashes quotes below are all either spoken by Michael McCourt or refer to Michael McCourt . 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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The next Saturday there's no telegram nor the Saturday after nor any Saturday forever. Mam begs again at the St. Vincent de Paul Society and smiles at the Dispensary when Mr. Coffey and Mr. Kane have their bit of a joke about Dad having a tart in Piccadilly. Michael wants to know what a tart is and she tells him it's something you have with tea.

Related Characters: Frank McCourt (speaker), Malachy McCourt Sr. , Angela Sheehan McCourt, Michael McCourt , Mr. Coffey , Mr. Kane
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Frank describes how his father leaves Limerick to find work in London. The fact that Malachy doesn't send letters or telegrams of any kind seems to suggest that he's abandoned his family altogether: never really at home in Limerick (where he's shunned by his territorial neighbors), Malachy makes a new life for himself in a new city. There are even rumors that Malachy has taken a new lover—rumors that are too adult for Frank's little brother, Michael, to understand, as is shown in this tragicomic discussion of the "tart."

The passage is a good example of how Frank has grown over the course of the book. A few chapters ago, it would have been Frank, not Michael, who failed to understand the meaning of the word "tart" (a promiscuous woman). But Frank is maturing emotionally and sexually, and so he has some understanding of the fact that his father might be having an affair. Most heartbreaking of all is Angela's behavior in this quotation: although she's surely frightened that her husband is abandoning her altogether, her first priority is protecting her children from the truth about their father. As Frank describes it, she steers Michael away from a conversation about sexuality without batting an eye.

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Michael McCourt Character Timeline in Angela’s Ashes

The timeline below shows where the character Michael McCourt appears in Angela’s Ashes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Soon after Christmas, Angela gives birth to a new child, Michael. As a baby, Michael has trouble breathing, but Malachy Sr. is able to keep him... (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
...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 5 pounds... (full context)
Chapter 8
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The next morning, Frank walks through the streets with his brother Michael. They pass by a stable, in which a horse is neighing and struggling with a... (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 Kane and gives her... (full context)
Chapter 12
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...brothers will end up working in factories or delivering mail. Frank also begins to pity Michael—he’s too old to play with Alphie and too young to be close with Malachy Jr.... (full context)
Chapter 14
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
For the next few months, Frank stays with Ab Sheehan. Angela and Michael visit him and ask him to come back to Laman’s house, but Frank, still angry,... (full context)
Chapter 15
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...he wants—he could buy fish and chips and see a film, for example. He and Michael have a meal of fish and chips, and afterwards, they go to see Yankee Doodle... (full context)
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Michael begins spending more and more time with Frank, who is still living at Ab Sheehan’s... (full context)