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In First Confessions Frank O’Connor provides a short story that is narrated in first person by a seven year old boy named Jackie. He is having rough times due to his grandmother and sister, Nora. He starts narrating the vicissitudes he goes through due to the way his grandmother is and his sister’s attitudes towards him to please her grandmother. Jackie’s biggest fear at this time it his first confession and communion which are coming soon. He has been prepared for this by a lady named Mrs.
Ryan. She has instilled in Jackie the sense of being a sinner and the consequences of this.
This has affected the boy so, that he keeps thinking he will be punished for his biggest sin: wanting the death of his grandmother and sister. The author uses a lighthearted, humorous style to tell the story. We find it in Jackie’s narrative of his grandmother: “She has a fat, wrinkled old face, and to Mother’s great indignation went round the house in bare feet”.
The humor also is in the incident when Jackie fell in the confessional and the way the priest receives his confession. The language throughout the story is also humored and lighthearted.
Even when Nora is harassing her brother there is humor in their exchange. In the First Confession there are different symbolisms. Nora represents hypocrisy. She has two faces, one for her grandmother in order to get the penny that she provides while on the other hand she mortifies her brother at all times.
Mrs. Ryan symbolizes Hell, with her stories of what happens to people who sin. The priest symbolizes Heaven and all things good in the way he sides with Jackie giving him only three Hail Marys and also a candy.
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