Analysis of Our Secret by Susan Griffin

Oscar Wilde once said, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple. ” Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I am here today to speak to you about a contentious topic. The question for debate is the definition of a classic and who shall decide which works deserve this highly esteemed title. The canonical value of a work can be decided at the hands of an elite range of high culture intellectuals. This exclusive few can deny the quality of a work, or confer the novels value.

Lexically, this guarantee of high aesthetic quality serves a contract that redeems in the authoritative list that ensures the novels value is recognized as a timeless classic for many generations to come. The natural question is then to ask ourselves if the truths conveyed throughout the work have been silenced or marginalized, and to what extent the author has made to produce the whole truth. The novel I will critique and look more closely into during today’s seminar will be Frank McCourts’, Angela’s Ashes (1996).

SLIDE) Please look towards the screen above me, and you will see some of the novels key facts to familiarize yourself more adequately with the work. To enter the canon, or more importantly to be entered into the canon, is to gain obvious such privileges (Landow, 1989). The canon serves a powerful purpose to regard novels in a light that must be valued and privileged, by both the author and reader. Nevertheless, a novel becomes immortal once entered into the world of canonization, which clearly allows a work to be enjoyed.

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Read also  –Failing to gain entrance into the elite can quite often result in the unnoticed. Belonging to the canon confers status, a guarantee of quality, which declares to the reader that there is something to be enjoyed as an aesthetic object (Landow, 1989).

The high culture of influential critics, museum directors and board of trustees who make these judgments hold the gate key to a fortress of high status. It is of great honour for authors to be a part of this highly esteemed group of elite, the authoritative list.The power of Angela’s Ashes (1996) imbued on every page holds the truths Frank McCourt claims through the story of his childhood. It is through a smokescreen of poverty, sexism and survival that these truths are constructed. The work bears all the marks of a classic, thus, such elements the novel excrete infer that it is of classical value indicative of the awards attained for its achievements. Frank McCourt won the 1997 ‘Pulitzer Prize for biography or autobiography’, the 1996 ‘National Critics Circle Award’ and the 1997 ‘Boeke Prize’ for his memoir. SLIDE) As you can see on the screen above me, there are many works by Frank McCourt have inherited the title of canonical value such as Angela’s Ashes (1996), Teacher Man (2005) and Tis’(1999), but many of McCourt’s ‘truths’ exhibited in his works have gone under fire. Within Angela’s Ashes (1996), McCourt’s highly lucrative memoir of his childhood managed to portray the fundamental truths about the human condition, a universal theme which confides in every human being.McCourt reconstructed his life as a young boy in Ireland during the late 1930’s, conveying certain truths about the Irish town of Limerick and the dire circumstances he and his family faced. (SLIDE) Many Irish and Irish-Americans took up a resistant reading towards McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (1996) claiming that the authors ‘exaggerations’ about the poverty and hunger within Ireland in the late 1930s were false. The Irish claimed, “That never happened. McCourt’s a first-class liar” (Phelan, 2009).

The question I am here to discuss is, who the real Frank McCourt was, and did he win the Pulitzer Prize with his memoir under false pretences? Brennan, 2009). (SLIDE) The portrayal of his mother was an important motif in the contemporary framing of the novel. In the very feudal pages of the memoir, Frank McCourt introduces his mother Angela as “the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire,” (Angela’s Ashes 1996, p 1). Quite early on in the work it is obvious that the reader is going to be exposed to a woman of despair and heartache which will position the reader to disconnect with Angela’s struggle. McCourt fails to marginalize his mother in a way that would situate her in a light of bliss motherhood.Frank McCourt’s depiction of his mother when Malachy left the family for England was anything but fair as her plight to regain her families well-being was silenced. Her defeat came sharply when Frank McCourt described her relationship with Leman Griffin as the reader was positioned to side with Frank’s hurt and anger towards his mother for entering into this scrupulous situation. Memory is an amorphous creation of the human mind that can become more than sedentary recollection (Withey, 2012).

Patricia Rampl emphasizes that, “Each of us must have a created version of the past. Frank McCourt has ‘created’ his work based on memory he has recalled from his earlier years. Angela’s Ashes (1996) depicts McCourt’s’ truth about his childhood, even his most infinitesimal details are authentic as he has constructed the memories into the book, perhaps leaving gaps and silencing certain people, or events, but always transmitting the truths he recollects. McCourt’s remembrances don’t have to follow the bare facts of his life, rather, characterizes the very nature in which the novel steers towards.With time, McCourt would have intensified what was important in his past and lay aside the inconsequential (Withey, 2012). A single memory can clearly illustrate the desperation of McCourt’s childhood in sheer poverty. When he falls asleep I take the greasy newspaper from the floor. I lick the front page, which is all advertisements for films and dances in the city. I lick the headlines. I lick the great attacks of Patton and Montgomery in France and Germany. I lick the war in the pacific. I lick the obituaries and the sad memorial poems, the sports pages, the market prices of eggs butter and bacon.I suck the paper till there isn’t a smidgen of grease. I wonder what I’ll do tomorrow. Angela’s Ashes, p296 (SLIDE) When image of an event by an adult mind can be intensified, the reader can be cognizant of that licking the war, politics and entertainment is an illustration that hunger and survival are all paramount to all else. McCourt’s truths have shaped the works of Angela’s Ashes (1996), Teacher Man (2005) and Tis’ (1999), to depict a story, a memory, and the truths that have shaped his life. If there are any questions, now is your time to speak up.

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Analysis of Our Secret by Susan Griffin
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