The First Day
The story is narrated by an adult female who tells the story of her first day of school, when she was still very young and unfortunately, throughout the years, has become ashamed of her mother. The question is: does her first day occur “long before” she “learned to be ashamed” of her mother? Or is she learning to be ashamed before the story ends? In order to give an answer we must first understand what is the narrator ashamed of.
The set-up for the beginning of the story describes the narrator’s social status. It appears that when the narrator was young, she came from a low income family, her mother states: “You gonna go there and learn about the whole world” (Jones 29). The mother says these words as if she was aiming for her child to achieve a great goal, the narrator says: “For as many Sundays as I can remember, perhaps even Sundays when I was in her womb, my mother has pointed across I street to Seaton…” (Jones 29).This indicates that it was her mother’s dream to initiate her daughter’s studies in what she believed was the best school. A parent of higher income would not dream to send his or her child to a high class school; the parent would just do it. Also, the narrator gives an in-depth description of the preparation that she endures as her mother attempts to perfect her appearance, wanting to make the impression that her daughter belongs at school, and does not deserve a life in poverty. Furthermore, the narrator gives another hint of her past social status when she says: “I am learning this about my mother: The higher up on the scale of respectability a person is-and teachers are rather high up in her eyes- the less she is liable to let them push her around” (Jones 29). If the narrator’s mother considers teachers to Pg.2
be of a higher social status, then, this would mean that the narrator’s mother either did not have an education or did not complete her studies, which is relatively common among people of extreme poverty....
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