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Edward P. Jones’ “The First Day” Essay

Edward P. Jones’ “The First Day” is the recollection of a young girl’s first day of school. Her memory of this particular day is incredible; she remembers each and every event in meticulous detail. Having come from a poverty stricken and uneducated household, this was the most important day of her short five year old life. On this day she began to realize her mother’s resilience and fortitude was all in hopes of giving her the education she deserved and the opportunity to live a better life. The girl’s first day of school is her coming of age in life in which she begins to understand that her education, which her mother has so desperately fought for, will eventually be the separation in their relationship.

Her mother made sure to dress her in nice clothes, with perfectly braided hair, and brand new black patent leather shoes to impress the school teachers. She wanted to show that her daughter deserved to be in school and was worthy of receiving a proper education. Upon arriving at school she begins to notice the differences between her mother and the administrative women outside the building. She notices luxuries about the women that she knew her mother could never afford, “The woman has pearls thick as jumbo marbles that come down to her naval…” (Jones 287).

After being informed that she cannot attend Seaton Elementary School because of the neighborhood she lives in, the young girl assumes she will not be attending school after all. But her mom does not hesitate to start off towards yet another local elementary school. At this point she begins to realize her mother’s determination. After arriving at Walker-Jones a new rush of feelings begins to sweep over her. As her mother fumbled to find the registration paperwork she notices a young girl who is clearly better off than she is. Her anger is apparent. She doesn’t understand why this process looks so easy for the girl and why it has been so difficult for her. She senses her mother’s frustration with the forms…


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