An Analysis of “First Confession”

Length: 3 Pages 780 Words

An Analysis of “First Confession” Frank O’ Connor’s “First Confession” is a humorous story about fastidiousness and fear of eternal punishment for childhood sins. This is a story of a misunderstood young boy who feels disdain and disgust towards his grandmother’s looks and old ways. He also feels anger toward his relatives because they sided with his grandmother. He blames his grandmother for his childhood sins. From trying to lash his sister with bread a knife, not eating the food prepared by her grandmother, kicking his grandmother on the shin, to the extent of planning to kill his grandmother. These childhood sins have to be confessed to a priest because of Jackie’s fear of damnation and eternal punishment. His sister accompanies him to the church on his first confession. After the confession, the priest gave Jackie a very light and absurd punishment of three “Hail Marys” and to suck a bullseye, which his sister finds ironic. An analysis of First Confession” reveals that what makes this story humorous and interesting is on the elements of point of view, character and tone. “First Confession” is written in first Continue...


This quote intensely shows that the story is written in first person point of view. Frank O'Connor uses this point of view to be able to convey the story through the character. His thoughts about where he should sit and how he should act during the confession is shown with wit and comedy Jackie, the protagonist is a round and dynamic character. Evidence of comic tone of the story is in the control of words and language that Jackie uses to express his mixed childhood emotion. Another evidence the story's comic tone is on the detailed description of scene during Jackie's first confession. The humor of "First Confession is well projected throughout the story. The Antagonists in the story are Nora, the grandmother and the way in which Jackie felt toward his grandmother. The way how the author defines and projects the character to the antagonist and the protagonist also contributed to story's humor. "I decided that, between one thing and another, I must have broken the whole ten commandments, all on account of that old woman, and so far as I could see, so long as she remained in the house I had no hope of ever doing anything else," (Roberts, Jacobs 311). Jackie's grandmother is also an antagonist in the story because of her looks and behavior which disgusts Jackie. The way how Jackie felts towards his grandmother or his fastidiousness can be considered an antagonist in the story too because this behavior also creates the conflict in the story. Nora creates the conflict in the story from the beginning to the end. Jackie considers his grandmother as the root of all his sins.