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But finally, I see in her eyes the closing gate…

The morning of the narrator’s first day of school begins with her mother uncharacteristically putting extra effort into the narrator’s appearance. Determined to make  sure her daughter receives a better education than herself, the mother takes her daughter — the narrator — to a school that is outside of their district. The first rejection that the mother and daughter encounter, being told that the daughter can’t go to Seaton Elementary, initially sets off the mother’s downfall into embarrassment. They then go to Walker-Jones where the mother is required to fill out forms to enroll her daughter. In front of her daughter, her mother has to ask for help filling out the required forms and admits to being illiterate which makes the mother feel embarrassed.  To add to the feeling of embarrassment the mother feels after admitting her lack of ability to read or write in front of her daughter, another child in the room then looks at her as if she is diseased.

The narrator’s mother is still determined to get her a better education than she received, so she sits in humiliation as well as embarrassment to complete the necessary school forms. The mother’s shame is exposed when she doesn’t participate in the game that she and her daughter created. Reflecting on her younger years, the narrator realizes how much her mother did for her, even if it meant going through public humiliation, to ensure that she received the best education possible.




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