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In 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 first day of school. (349)

The first line of Jones’ “The First Day” informs the reader that the narrator is telling a story about the appreciation and love she feels for her mother, who has passed away before the telling of the story. The narrator is an adult who reflects back to a time when she is a child. The narrator of this story writes in present tense from the first person perspective so that the reader is able to experience the situation as if he/she is there with the narrator.

The narrator takes the reader through events that suggest she and her mother live during a time of racial discrimination and injustice. She describes a situation in which she has been turned away from a school that is “out of her league,” and has to attend a less qualified school in order to show the injustices that have been shown towards the girl and her mother, possibly because they are a minority. In the end, the narrator states, “I can still hear my mother’s footsteps above it all.” which indicates how important the girl’s mother is to her. The narrator holds her mother’s love higher than the opinions of others.

Her shoes make loud sounds in the hall. She passes through the doors and I can still hear the loud sounds of her shoes.

The narrator’s mother’s footsteps are a metaphor for the life lessons her mother has taught her. The narrator still thinks of her mother, and even after she has passed away, the narrator still holds her mother higher in respect to all others.


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