The main character of the book is Frank McCourt himself. The entire book is written in first person. He describes his life as a miserable Irish Catholic childhood. And he certainly has the right to. His family was forced to move out of the United States, and move to their native country, Ireland. There Frank came upon many hardships such as the loss of his twin brothers, Eugene and Oliver, and his drunken father who couldnt get a job for very long and only making matters worse. Frank is a very smart and diligent student.
His classmates however show no respect for him because he is poor. He then quits school to begin working at the young age of fourteen. And when he leaves his job at the post office to write threatening letters and deliver and manage a Protestant newspaper he is criticized. He has plenty of adventures in both jobs. He even falls in love with a seventeen year old girl, Theresa Carmody, who is dying of consumption. Frank earns plenty of money from his work, and he has plenty of dreams about escaping poverty and returing to America and sending the rest of his family to later join him.
His dream of returning to America does in fact come true, but before that Frank is very worried about how he will be punished in the afterlife and whether or not he would make it into heaven. He feels that he has not only doomed himself by sleeping with Theresa Carmody and slapping his mother but that he has also doomed the rest of his family. But Frank eventually learns from a certain father that if he does not repent his sins to God that they will not be forgiven. Then Frank repents in the church and feels a lot better about himself knowing that he is no longer doomed.
One major character found in the book is Franks mother, Angela. Angela is a very kind, loving mother who would do anything for her children. Struck by poverty in Ireland, Angela is forced to plead for clothing, furniture, etc. from the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Angela sacrifices her pride, unlike her husband, in order to provide for the family. Angela becomes extremely outraged when she is discriminated for her social class. Angela is not a very religious person, however she respects the church, and is proud of her son, Frank, when he completes his first communion.
And she also respects her husbands decision to teach Frank to become an altar boy. Angela is a good mother. She teaches her children to be hardworking men who have a high standard for good virtue and humanity. She herself however does not practice this. Instead, of moving into her sisters home, she moves to her cousin, Laman Griffins home where she must succumb to becoming his lover. Frank condemns her for this, and for begging upon a church. Another major character found in the book is Franks aunt Aggie. She is the sister to Angela.
Frank and his brothers first meet her in Limerick when she is at her mothers home after a fight she had with her husband, Pa Keating. She is disappointed at the fact that Angela has children and she doesnt. But when her chance to shine as an aunt comes, she ruins it by hitting her nephews and sending them out to play in freezing cold weather. Frank comes back to live with her after he has an argument with Laman Griffin. This time she is much kinder and accepts Frank into her home with little hostility. She even buys him new clothes for his post office job. Franks father, Malachy plays a very important role in the book.
He could very well be considered the cause of the problems his family faces. And this is because he has a hard time finding a job and even when he does he is unable to keep it, and he also spends all of his wages at the pub. Although Malachy is a heavy drinker and doesnt bring in much money, his family still accepts him. His family realizes that his drinking is out of control, and that it is more like a disease. He even drinks his wages away in England. Malachy leaves for England in hopes that he will benefit from the war, and he promises to send money, but he never does.
He stays in England while there are rumors about him spreading in Limerick. He however, does return while his wife is in the hospital around Christmas time, and all that he had to offer was a half eaten box of chocolates. He then returns to England and sends some money once, then is never to be heard of again. He may sound like an evil man, but hes not. Malachy was a man with great pride and dignity, he loved Ireland, and was a great storyteller. And the only reason that he had a hard time finding a hard time in Limerick was because he was from northern Ireland, and was described as having an odd manner.
Another important character found in the book is Malachy Jr. , Franks younger brother by one year. He was named after his father. Frank spends a lot of his time with Malachy Jr. He was there throughout all of Franks early struggles. Malachy in a way is brought out as a charming character. Him and Frank have plenty of adventures together. One example of this is when they have to go out and look for coal out on the street, and then wind up in a pub drinking lemonade and getting an offer of free coal from the bartender.