Angela’s Ashes

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Theresa Carmody Character Analysis

A young, pretty Limerick girl who’s suffering from consumption (tuberculosis), Theresa Carmody loses her virginity to Frank McCourt, just as Frank loses his virginity to her. Theresa’s sudden death from tuberculosis shortly after having had sex with Frank is one of the key events of the second half of the memoir—her death terrifies Frank, since he assumes that he’s condemned her to an eternity in hell.

Theresa Carmody Quotes in Angela’s Ashes

The Angela’s Ashes quotes below are all either spoken by Theresa Carmody or refer to Theresa Carmody . 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 15 Quotes

We take our ease on the sofa a while till she says, Don't you have more telegrams to deliver? and when we sit up she gives a little cry, Oh, I'm bleeding.
What's up with you?
I think it's because it's the first time.
I tell her, Wait a minute. I bring the bottle from the kitchen and splash the iodine on her injury. She leaps from the sofa, dances around the parlor like a wild one and runs into the kitchen to douse herself with water.
After she dries herself she says, Lord, you're very innocent. You're not supposed to be pouring iodine on girls like that.

Related Characters: Frank McCourt (speaker), Theresa Carmody (speaker)
Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:

Frank delivers telegrams to the Carmody house, where he encounters a pretty young girl, Theresa. In this passage, Frank has just had sex with Theresa, something neither one of them has done before. Frank notices that Theresa is bleeding, and so he tries to use iodine to make help her "wound."

Theresa's attitude toward Frank is that of an older, more experienced woman to a younger boy. Even though Frank and Theresa are equally inexperienced when it comes to sex, Theresa seems much more confident and self-possessed here: she calls Frank "innocent" (though by Catholic laws he's anything but innocent now!), and her comments about "pouring iodine on girls" suggest that Frank is sexually inexperienced as well (and has in fact caused Theresa pain with his well-intentioned iodine). The irony of the scene is that even after losing his virginity—supposedly a mark of maturity—Frank continues to feel immature, and to act in an amusingly immature way. Indeed, Frank will struggle with feelings of guilt for months to come, due in large part to his belief that any sex out of wedlock is a grievous sin. 

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Angela’s Ashes quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

Frost is already whitening the fresh earth on the grave and I think of Theresa cold in the coffin, the red hair, the green eyes. I can't understand the feelings going through me but I know that with all the people who died in my family and all the people who died in the lanes around me and all the people who left I never had a pain like this in my heart and I hope I never will again.

Related Characters: Frank McCourt (speaker), Theresa Carmody
Page Number: 325
Explanation and Analysis:

Theresa—the girl to whom Frank loses his virginity—has died suddenly of tuberculosis. Because Frank had sex with Theresa shortly before her death, he believes that he's condemned Theresa to an eternity spent in hell. Theresa's death represents the first time in the memoir that Frank believes his sinful actions have harmed another person. (He's stolen and masturbated, but in these cases his actions are shown to hurt no one else.)

As misplaced as Frank's guilt might seem to some readers, it's a mark of Frank's growing maturity that he's realizing that his actions have consequences for other people. As Frank explains, he's been surrounded by death for his entire life—but it's not until this moment that he feels truly responsible for another person's pain. The guilt and anxiety that Frank feels for Theresa's damnation outweighs anything he ever felt for Oliver or Eugene, his deceased brothers (although a large part of his sadness probably also comes from the outsized emotions of young love). Frank is growing into a thoughtful, mature young man, but the burden of his maturity is to feel guilty for harming others.

Chapter 17 Quotes

But I want to know about Theresa Carmody in hell, Father.
No, my child. She is surely in heaven. She suffered like the martyrs in olden times and God knows that's penance enough. You can be sure the sisters in the hospital didn't let her die without a priest.
Are you sure, Father?
I am, my child.

Related Characters: Frank McCourt (speaker), Father Gregory (speaker), Theresa Carmody
Page Number: 343
Explanation and Analysis:

Frank, still wracked with guilt at having had sex with Theresa Carmody before her untimely death, confesses his sin to Father Gregory. To Frank's surprise and relief, Gregory assures Frank that Theresa would have confessed her sins to a priest before her death—in other words, her soul is in no danger of damnation.

Even more important than the information that Frank receives from Father Gregory is the fact that Frank is confessing to a priest in the first place. In the past, Frank struggles with obeying the tenets of Catholicism—indeed, McCourt suggests that some of these tenets are ridiculous and unfair. But in this passage, McCourt suggests that there are many aspects of Irish Catholicism, particularly the confession, that serve a useful purpose (particularly in the hands of an empathetic priest like Father Gregory). Frank has been feeling guilty about Theresa for months and he feels tied up in Theresa's disease and death. By finally confessing that he and Theresa had sex, then, Frank is choosing to move on from the past. Frank admits that he's sinned, and in the act of admitting this, his sins become past. No longer burdened with a sense of guilt and involvement in Limerick life, Frank is free to look forward to a new life in America.

Get the entire Angela’s Ashes LitChart as a printable PDF.
Angela s ashes.pdf.medium

Theresa Carmody Character Timeline in Angela’s Ashes

The timeline below shows where the character Theresa Carmody appears in Angela’s Ashes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
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
Inside the house, the young woman, introducing herself as Theresa Carmody, tells Frank to take off his pants so that she can dry them. Theresa... (full context)
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Frank continues delivering telegrams to the Carmody house (and having sex with Theresa) for the next weeks. One day he shows up to the house and finds Theresa’s... (full context)
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
On Sunday, Frank goes to church. He senses that he’s sent Theresa to hell—by taking her virginity, he made her sin. Furthermore, since Theresa had tuberculosis, she... (full context)
Chapter 16
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
...source of income when he’s sixteen, and he still feels guilty about having sex with Theresa Carmody. A year has passed since her death—Frank is now fifteen years old. He contemplates... (full context)
Chapter 17
Irish Social Tensions Theme Icon
Poverty, Survival, and Morality Theme Icon
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
Misery, Drunkenness, and Escape Theme Icon
...on his patron saint, as Francis didn’t help when Frank prayed for the life of Theresa Carmody. Frank begins to weep. Suddenly, a hand grabs him—it is Father Gregory, a local... (full context)
Catholicism, Sexuality, and Coming-of-age Theme Icon
...Father Gregory waits a few moments, then begins to talk to Frank. Gregory explains that Theresa has undoubtedly gone to heaven—she would have been provided with a priest at the hospital,... (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
...his spare time, he reads the newspapers, improving his reading skills. He continues thinking about Theresa Carmody, but believes that she’s in heaven. As the months go on, Frank wins Mr.... (full context)