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.
The story continues, and it shows her mother’s determination in giving her child a better future. This is observed when the narrator’s mother doesn’t give up after she was told that because of the location where she lived she couldn’t get her child to attend Seaton Elementary School, which was the school she always wanted her child to go to. The narrator’s mother doesn’t give up and tells her daughter, “One monkey don’t stop no show” (Jones 29), showing her intensions to continue on looking for a place where her daughter can be educated.
Eventually the narrator’s mother does find a school which would take her daughter, but the encouraging attitude is quickly veiled when during her admission to the new school, the narrator finds out that her mother cannot read and write. The narrator learns that this is not normal, even though she is very young, she could identify that her mother doesn’t have the ability to read or write like the rest of people. This was the beginning when the narrator, even though young, begins to understand that there was going to be a change in her life.
Her mother lets her know this by cutting short a game they always use to play, she makes her understand that this was a significant situation, and even though she didn’t quite understand, things were going to be different from that point forward. Based on the aforementioned passages, which serve as supporting evidence, and the puzzle I would intent to explain next, I believe is very clear that the narrator’s shame of her mother began on her first day of school.
I built this argument because according to the story this particular day was the beginning of a change in the narrator’s life; she stated: “On an otherwise unremarkable September morning…” (Jones 27), she clearly points that this was a “remarkable “day in her life, a day she cannot Pg. 3 forget. Through the book scenarios, we learned that by being able to go to school, the narrator is probably on a much higher social level than her mother ever was, and by having an education the narrator was able to grow out of poverty and despites the fact that she was ever poor.
In addition, the fact that her mother was not able to read shamed her to the core, and her humiliation did began her first day of school, when she realized that she was poor and her mother was an uneducated woman; that is what the narrator was ashamed of. Thickening the plot, the story also suggests that because that her mother was no “push” over among people of higher class, it could have created several arguments as the narrator grew intellectually and socially.
Perhaps, being “now” and educated woman, she rather admit to be ashamed of her mother because she had extreme arguments with her, and would blame her mother’s ignorance to her new world and social life, but the narrator would not accept that it was because her mother couldn’t read; after all, this would be too awful since deep inside she knew that it was her mother who made her into the accomplished person she is.
But the shame on her mother did in-fact started when she became aware that her mother was illiterate. It is sad that a child would be ashamed of her own mother, especially after she made every effort to see her child succeed. Being an immigrant from another country, I knew the sacrifices my mother had to endure in order to provide me with a better future, but in-turn I continued my mother’s dreams through my successes in life and pride all her sacrifices.
The narrator never realized that she inherited the feel of superiority and arrogance from her mother: As the narrator’s mother left the school, her footsteps signified strength, diligence, determination, and the endurance she was passing on to her daughter. The mother understood that this was going to be the start of a new life for her daughter in order to make sure that she would never be like her, but she was indeed. Pg. 4 Citations * Jones, E. P. (1992). Lost in the city, “the first day”.