"The First Day" Analysis

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“The First Day” by Edward P. Jones
It’s only natural to keep vivid memories of certain monumental moments in life, such as the first day of school, for a long time. “The First Day” by Edward P. Jones tells the story of a mother and daughter on the daughter’s first day of school. In the beginning of the story, the mother goes to great lengths to prepare her daughter for this important occasion. After the preparation is over, she takes her daughter to a particular school before being told that she is in the wrong school district. They are directed to the correct school and that is where the daughter is registered to attend. However, the mother is not able to fill out the registration form because she cannot read or write. Along with love, pride and shame are also expressed in the story. Throughout the story, the author uses imagery, irony, and descriptive detail to convey these powerful feelings. Although love and shame are almost completely opposite on the spectrum of human emotion, Jones suggests that they run parallel to each other.

The daughter’s shame in her mother is made prevalent from the beginning on the story. In the first sentence, Jones uses an appositive to reveal the daughter’s feelings early on: “On an otherwise unremarkable September morning, long before I learned to be ashamed of my mother, she takes my hand and we set off down New Jersey Avenue to begin my very first day of school.” (Jones) Jones pairs the phrases “otherwise unremarkable,” “ashamed,” and “first day” together in the same sentence to indicate that the memory the girl is looking back on is not a joy filled one. (Jones) After this, the author starts to makes numerous mentions about the mother’s lack of education. He makes this apparent by her dialogue when the mother says, “If I’da wanted her someplace else I’da took her there.” (Jones) Then Jones takes it a step even further when the mother adds, “I don’t know how to read or write, and I’m askin you to help me.” (Jones) The...
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