However, the reader might probably be disappointed at the lack of assignment of responsibility to any living being. Again, the author of this essay thinks that the book buying public who provides the author with the ability to make a living deserves better.
This portrayal of McCourt's father is further analyzed in the book by Helena Schneider. She has an entire chapter dedicated to McCourt's father. She quotes one of McCourt's interviews where he cites an extract from the book where he likens his paper in an Irish parody of the Holy Trinity. He said his father had one in the morning with the paper, then one at night with stories and prayers and then he said that the one reeking of whiskey comes home and wants them to die for Ireland (Schneider 6). The father is a complex figure who is just too proud to ask anyone for financial help. This falls to Angela and Frank at a later time who has to go beg for help from others.
Schneider catches McCourt in a Freudian slip his when he describes his father as "a drinker and a dreamer at the same time proves that Malachy McCourt lives rather in his own world than in the real circumstances his family have to face (ibid 7)." The brother Malachy takes off in flights of fancy to escape the nightmare of his father's alcoholism. Daydreaming is not very different from dissembling, just that daydreaming is more passive. Dissembling is active and requires more effort. This is an activity that one does while awake, although the person may not realize that they are rationalizing to cover for the guilty person and to cover up the victims complicity in their victimization (Doyle and Folan 266).
In the case of McCourt, it is unique in that he has a wide audience for his dissembling. Most of us do not have this wide of an audience for a prevarication, but then most of us are not authors. This characterization is particularly useful for understanding the background of the music and song relating to the 1798 rebellion against British rule in Ireland. From that time and up until the Easter Rising of 1916, there was no active Irish nationalism.
It is the opinion of the author of this essay that McCourt, like his homeland, was dissembling. For the time from 1798 until 1916, the real cause of Irish problems (the British occupiers) was submerged. Unlike McCourt, the Irish people did not die. Nationalism and national consciousness is eternal while human life is not.
Because the author was not a writer until well into his 60's, his series of books are memoirs. The portrayal of his father was sympathetic, delivered in his mature older years when he had learned to forgive if not forget. Uniquely, the memoir was meant to be published quietly. Grossman quotes McCourt who said "My dream was to have a Library of Congress catalog number, that's all." However, it became a best seller and won McCourt his 1997 National Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
This then answers the sympathetic hearing that the father Malachy senior gets in the first book. However, this does not answer the reason that McCourt still does not vary his portrayal of his father. It is likely that he remained the good son until the day he died. We can all find inspiration in this act of noble act of forgiveness.
Doyle, Danny and Terence Folan, eds. The Gold Sun of Irish Freedom: 1798 in Song and Story. Dublin: O'Brien Press, 1998.