Perseverance is clearly the most prevalent aspect of Angela’s Ashes. In any of the chapters, you see Frank and his family tackle adversity. What I think differentiates this book from others and led to its success, is its real depiction of perseverance and stride. Angela’s Ashes is a memoir, so it takes a real world look at perseverance and adversity; instead of a glorified depiction of goal achievement. It is worth mentioning that this idea of perseverance is incredibly prevalent in America; as it is promoted to us from birth.
In this context, two types of perseverance exist: real and narrative. It is exactly the ladder one that is dangerous when perpetuated in real life. Narrative perseverance is a hyper exaggerated expression of how fate operates. Fate, as I see it and use in this context, is not a predetermined set of events. Fate is a streamline of cause and effect events that people’s actions make changeable. In America, we have this idea that as long as you put the work in your guaranteed the results you want. I don’t need to express how overly optimistic this is, and commonly false. Like it or not, in the real world hard work is not always rewarded, crime does sometimes pay, and people do cheat and get away with it. This belief in narrative perseverance leads to a rather unsympathetic response by many to those not successful. A lot of people see this as an absence of work ethic on the person’s part. We all heard the phrase “Just do it,” “just make it happen” as though it is that easy to wield fate. In books, no specific genre or type because this applies to almost every book, the world is set around the main character(s) and their actions, their life, and their goals. If it wasn’t the story wouldn’t be very interesting. Ever notice how when the main character(s) does something things just follow suit and things happen on their accord. They will the world around them to their goals and the universe just acknowledges those goals. Even if the goal doesn’t work out, all the events seem tailored to the protagonist’s actions. Characters make the opportunity for them to succeed in and fate obliges.
In real life, this just doesn’t happen. Then there is real perseverance. This may sound scary, but we are not in total control of our lives. Our lives are just as much a result of other people’s actions as they are our own, and they do affect us. We are constantly subjected to the results of these actions and decisions, which does change our lives and affect the decisions we make. Yes, our decisions are a large part of the outcomes in our lives, but it is not the whole. An employer could deny us or fire us as fast as they hired us. Many things that may happen in our lives may not even be our fault. If you’re poor, so many things affect your life and may keep you poor, other than work ethic, most of those factors are likely, not controllable. There are a million little factors that affect your life every day, some small, some large, that determine your life. At any point in the book, Frank would have jumped at the ways to enhance his life, but he couldn’t because most of the factors were out of his control. Frank going back to Ireland, his father drinking the many, getting typhoid, getting more brothers, getting turned away from the Christian brotherhood, the list goes on. Real perseverance is taking an opportunity as it comes to you. Persisting to look for opportunity and going after it. Opportunities, mind you, likely the results of other people’s actions. Essentially everyone in the world makes this huge network of give and take that applies to everyone. Mark Zuckerberg, while incredibly intelligent and having a great work ethic did not make Facebook and his success solely by himself, his success is also the product of millions of little events, decisions, and people all happening to work in his favor. Frank McCourt himself even stated in an interview, that one of the books key points is not about overcoming adversity but dealing with it. We see Frank McCourt take the opportunity as it comes when the debt collector dies, then he steals money from her to afford his goal. He took the opportunity as it came, and when the opportunity came to help everyone else, he did that as well. He never lost sight of going back to America, but it was always a thing for the future, replacing something more immediate.
Real perseverance is what I as the reader and a thinker in my seventeen years of life, take away from this book. There are steps you can take to success, but you don’t control fate, and it is never exactly your call to make. But it is never utterly hopeless, at least for some of us it isn’t.