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January 04, 2009

FRANK O’CONNOR, “First Confession”


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FRANK O’CONNOR, “First Confession”

Posted by lhobbs at January 4, 2009 07:32 PM

Readers' Comments:

John Winans
Dr. Hobbs
Short Paper #1
15January2009

While reading the essay First Confession by Frank O’Connor we are exposed to the understanding and realization of the author’s intentions by the first few paragraphs not to mention in just the title alone .His insight into the life and duty of one particular child and his experience of fulfilling the religious right of passage as all good children of the church encounter is one all of the church can relate to. In the descriptive paragraphs that follow, the author is vivid in painting the picture of a modern day family addressing common American family issues adding an extra character of a grandmother who has lost her spouse and has joined this family only to remind the future generations of the past and present concerning the issues of the church and religious duties.
As the author continues, he is specific in describing the child’s attempt at maturing in the spiritual life and accepting the call of the required church’s structured plan for religious growth through confession which is to be attempted by this youngest child for the very first time on his way to adulthood just as his grandmother and mother before him although this certain experience is somewhat comical between members of separate generations, Frank O’Connor puts it this way out of the mouth of the child: “I decided that, between one thing and another, I must have broken the whole ten commandments, all on the 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.” After being scared half to death by the life of his grandmother and elder teacher’s confession experiences and stories the child is ready to turn the other way and run from the church than to it. The child exclaims: “I was scared to death of confession.” As the story turns from horrifying tales and visions of burning in hell the author lightens the whole ordeal by causing a chuckle in describing the way the child enters the confessional booth all the way through to his exodus.
This glimpse into the life of one family reminds us of the trials we all face and the faults needing to be forgiven sometimes on a weekly basis for some but for all there was always that first time which is the basis of this story, from childhood to adulthood the constant struggle in life and our accompanying failures enforcing the need for confession and a safe haven in the church built upon trust in God to forgive our faults allows us to grow more mature each day finding sweet relief and satisfaction in this important step towards forgiveness which is as sweet as candy from the priest’s pocket or just three Hail Marys in the life of a child. After all we are all children of our heavenly Father.

Posted by: john winans at January 20, 2009 07:59 AM

Katie Ganning

Dr. Hobbs

English 122

15 January 2009

First Confession

Each person’s personality and virtues are based upon their families. We sometimes do not like or get along with members in the family, but unlike a friendship you cannot end it. In the short story, First Confession, a young boy named Jackie did not get along with his sister Nora and grandmother. Although he did not like them, he paid close attention to their mannerism. “Nora led on to be very indignant (she wasn’t, of course, but she knew Mother saw right through her, so she sided with Gran) and came after me” (O’Connor 234). Jackie eventually lashed out against his sister and attempted to kill her.

When Jackie was preparing for his first confession he realized that he had broken all Ten Commandments because of his grandmother; “I must have broken the whole Ten Commandments all on account on that old women…so long as she remained in the house I had no hope of ever doing anything else.”(235) Realizing all the sins he committed, Jackie was afraid to confess them and tried to avoid going, but his teacher made sure he attended. Once he started talking to the priest, he began to confess about wanting to kill his grandmother and already attempting to kill his sister. After his confession, he came to realization that he was finding his identity through the actions of his family.

The author’s point in this short story was to understand that maybe Jackie was acting out because he might be manic depressed. The more he paid attention to his family members, the more he would build himself up and eventually want to kill them. When children are young they believe in what their parents say and since his Mother saw through Nora and did not like Grandmother’s actions, he took what his Mother thought into too much consideration. I believe that the author was trying to show that it was not really about finding faith, but discovering the self and even though Jackie did not like his grandmother, he was similar to her in many ways.

Works Cited

O’Connor, Frank. “First Confession.” Writing About Literature. Roberts, Edgar V. New Jersey. Pearson, 2006.

Posted by: Katherine Ganning at January 20, 2009 10:53 AM

Steve Milvid
Dr. Hobbs
English 122 ca17
1/20/09


O’Connor, Frank. “First Confession.” Writing About Literature by Edgar V. Roberts.
Upper Saddle River: New Jersey. Pearson, 2006. 233-38

First Confession is a story about a boy named Jackie who is having a lot of trouble adjusting to a new family situation. His grandfather has passed away and her grandmother has come to stay with her. The grandmother’s main role is to watch both Jackie and his younger sister Nora while her parents are at work. The grandmother’s character seems to be very old fashioned almost barbaric, as she walks around bare foot and eats with only her hands. However, Jackie has a horrible relationship with the grandmother and even plots to kill her. Jackie’s sister Nora is quite the opposite, she sucks up to her grandmother to receive a penny each Friday for being good. Jackie looks down on her sister for doing so and says to herself “I was too honest, that was my trouble.” (First confession 234) Nora, even being the younger sister, tends to torment Jackie whenever she gets the chance. Because of this Jackie actually try’s to hit Nora with a knife for forcing her to eat her grandmothers cooking.
The main conflict in the story comes about midway when Jackie is told he has to attend his first confession where he will make his first communion. He is very scared of this and fears that if he makes his confessions he will be dammed. Part of this fear comes from a woman who talks to all the children after school and prepares then for their first Communion. However, this woman seems to be more concerned about telling the children they will all go to hell if they don’t follow the word of god to a tee. In one part of the story she actually tries to have the children hold one finger over a candle for five minutes. When the children give up she explains that that pain is like Hell, but all over your body, until the end of time. During the time before confession, Jackie does a lot of reflecting and comes to the conclusion he has broken almost every commandment scaring her even more. Also his sister constantly teases her and tells her she is doomed either way.
Finally, the day of Communion and the first confession has come. The Church is centered in the town surround by hills on all sides. It is actually described by Jackie to look like what Adam most have saw at his last glimpse of Paradise. (Genesis 3:23) As he approaches the doors her sister throws her in and the ceremony starts. At her first attempt to make confession he actually falls into the isle where his embarrassed younger sister smacks him. The priest, who sees this, defends Jackie and tells him they will try again after the elder people have all gone. This is the first time were you can see a good relationship forming between the priest and Jackie. During Jackie’s second time he confesses to everything. Plotting to kill his grandmother, trying to stab his sister, and all the other things he has done. Here is where Jackie finds out he is not the devil everyone tells him he is. The priest actually says “Someone will go for her with a bread knife one day, and he won’t miss her.” (First Confession237) The priest gives Jackie advice but in the way he talks you can tell it s probably sarcastic. He tells Jackie about other boys who tried to kill their grandmothers and said it was not worth it. He tells Jackie it would not be a good idea but does not use any harsh criticism. They actually both leave the confession both and walk around the courtyard together sharing stories. In the end Jackie is overrun with relief after talking to the priest and realizes she is not so bad after all.

Posted by: Steve Milvid at January 27, 2009 11:43 AM

Brittany Thunberg
Dr. Hobbs
Academic Writing II CA16
4 January 2009

“First Confession” Point of View

The short story “First Confession” written by Frank O’Connor is written in first person point of view. The narrator in this story is also the main character, or protagonist. The protagonist’s name is Jackie. Jackie is a young boy who is terrified of making his first confession. The fact that this piece is written so open and honestly it makes it easy for reader’s to understand and interpret the narrator Jackie.
The speaker is telling this story to convey to readers his point of view. If this short story would have been told through the point of view of Jackie’s older sister Nora the work would have been written and interpreted completely different. Jackie puts his entire situation out there for the reader to interpret as they please. He is very honest throughout this story even going as far as telling readers that he loathes his own grandmother. “I had it all arranged to kill my grandmother.” “She’s an awful woman.” (O’Connor 237) Jackie also criticizes other characters in the work including his sister Nora. “She became the raging malicious devil she really was.” (O’Conner 235) He does this to paint a clear picture to the reader exactly what he is feeling and to make them understand what is fueling his fire.
The speaker in this story is absolutely believable. He is a young boy who argues with his older sister like any other pair of siblings. He is inpatient like any young boy and is partly influenced about his feelings toward his grandmother from overhearing his mother talking. This story is not written for self-justification but simply to tell a story about overcoming fears that are normal to have.
The short work “First Confession” is about self-reflection. This work is meant for reader’s to understand the main character’s fears, insecurities, and his most inner thoughts. Although the story is told through the eyes of a young boy, he is considered reliable. Despite the speaker’s age, readers can easily sympathize with his frustrations and insecurities, therefore him a reliable source. “Most first-person speakers describing their own experiences are to be accepted as reliable and authoritative.” (Roberts 81)


Works Cited

(O’Conner, Frank. “First Confession.” Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson 2006. 233-08.)

(Roberts, V, Edgar. Writing about Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson 2006.)

Posted by: Brittany Thunberg at February 10, 2009 07:39 AM

Michael Balice
Professor Hobbs
February 10 2009
English 122 CA 17
A Boy and His Mind
First Confessions by, Frank O’Connor is a story told in a first-person point of view by a young protagonist named Jackie. The story formulates when Jackie has terrible thoughts in his under aged restless mind. The antagonist and or his sister Nora fill’s Jackie’s head with these thoughts right before Jackie must make his first confession for communion. Jackie’s young mind cannot compensate for these thoughts ultimately telling a rather bias anthology to the reader. Jackie also has a young tone to his actions leaving him to do rather childish acts that the reader can relate to. If the story were to be written from another point of view it wouldn’t hold the substance that it does. Per say it were written from a third person point of view, details and important incidences would be left out.
The First person narrative is bias to some extent. The reason for this is because the reader is only viewing and analyzing the story from one characters point of view. “And she gives pennies to Nora and none to me, and one day I made up my mind, I’d have to kill her” (O’Connor 237). Here one can assume that Jackie is upset because he isn’t being treated equally to his sister. This is assumed for the mere reason that the narrator is telling the story. Were also assuming that the narrator has no reason to lie therefore he is totally honest. This will miss guide the reader into being sympathetic which could cause a person to believe Jackie’s rather bias remarks.
Jackie’s childish acts and the way he tells his story gives the reader something to relate to. The author purposely does this, putting the story in a young person’s perspective. “It was really a place for grown-up people to rest their elbows, but in my distracted state I thought it was probably the place you were supposed to kneel” (O’Connor 236). Jackie is in the confessional booth kneeling on an armrest like a monkey. This is probably rather easy for one to picture, who can’t see themselves at ten again wrestling aimlessly on a countertop?
If the story had been written from another perspective it would totally change. For instance, if the story were from the priest’s perspective Jackie’s background and reason for being at the church would not play role. The priest would most likely make a comment to the reader saying that there was a strange little boy and girl that walked into the church one day. This leaves out an extreme amount of details, giving one enough knowledge to see why the author wrote in first person. O’Conner gave the reader all the necessary information and tools to analyze and view the story from a young boy’s first person perspective.
The author’s intentions were great, he told a first person narrative that one can relate to and interoperate from different angles. It is now easy to see and understand how much ones view point can change a story. A personal experience is none other than a story just like Jackie’s. A story of great detail that is assumed to be honest and only foretold truth, but as we all know when telling a story one bias mind can exaggerate this truth, eventually foretelling a whole different story.


Work Cited
O'Connor, Frank. First Confession. Upper Saddle River: Creative Education, 1993.


Posted by: Michael Balice at February 10, 2009 09:15 AM

Dawn Serzanin
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 CA17
3 March 2009
Frank O’Connor’s Vision of What Goes Around Comes Around
In the short story “First Confession” written by Frank O’Connor has a very strong theme throughout. Jackie, the main character, is dealing with many difficult situations growing up, many of which he is punished unjustly for. Although O’Connor uses the theme of honesty in many different aspects of his writing, he emphasizes in the characters dialogue.
Edgar Roberts write “In many stories, characters express their own views, which can be right or wrong,...When you consider such dramatic speeches, you must do considerable interpreting and evaluating yourself.”(122) O’Connor uses the element of speech to express his theme throughout the complete story. O’Connor expresses through the main character Jackie by using him to be the voice of the story. Throughout Jackie’s story he tells of many people preaching to him about being honest but he continues to see them as hypocritical. The young boy tells everyone how he feels and does what he feels he should because to him that was being honest. Although many adults in his life wanted to punish him, Jackie seemed to be the only character to recognize and accept his wrong doings. Jackie proves this when he says “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.”(O’Connor 235) Finally, the young boy goes to his first confession where he is taught that what he is being punished for is not right, even though some of his own actions were questionable.
O’Connor uses his theme of honesty to illustrate its affects in everyday life. Throughout the short story “First Confession” it is obvious for the readers to see how one basic concept can be interpreted into many different understandings. Overall Frank O’Connor’s short story follows many qualities of theme and idea Roberts discusses.

Works Cited
1. O’Connor, Frank. “First Confession.” Writing About Literature: 11th ed. Written by Edgar Roberts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006. (233-238).
2. Roberts, Edgar.”Writing About Literature: 11th ed.” Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006.(119-128).

Posted by: Dawn at March 2, 2009 11:34 PM

Josh Green
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 122 CA17
3/9/09
First Confessions by Frank O’Connor:
The tale of a young man and his bread-knife
In Frank O’Connor’s First Confessions, I found that O’Connor did a solid job of symbolizing women as evil and malicious beings in the life of young Jackie. Jackie is the main character in the story who endures the wrath of his sister and grandma on a daily basis. To the point where he even gives serious thought to killing them. His internal struggle comes with his first confession. He believes that the evils of his thoughts would surely prompt a bad confession, thus leaving him damned in the house of the lord. The only woman Jackie trusted was his mother, but she wasn’t able to come so his sister Nora came along instead. “Now that girl had ways of tormenting me that Mother never knew of.”(O’Connor 235). Not only was he “scared to death of confession,” he had to deal with the unnecessary malice from his sister. (O’Connor 235).
In one paragraph Jackie relates himself in a “parable form of symbolism” (Roberts 133) as Adam leaving paradise. “The sunlight hit the hillsides beyond the valley of the river, which I saw in the gaps between the houses like Adam’s last glimpse of paradise.” (O’Connor 235). Adam was driven out of paradise because he was tempted by a woman and sinned. Jackie’s path to confession symbolizes his loss of innocence just like Adam’s departure from paradise. Jackie believes he will be cast aside because of his sins related to the females in his family. Fortunately Jackie finds the ear of an understanding young priest who can relate to his feelings. “Someone will go for her with a bread-knife one day, and he won’t miss her,” he said rather cryptically.” (O’Connor 237). The two men found common ground and Jackie felt relieved to have a positive experience with his first confession rather than the burning and torment he expected.


Works Cited

O’Connor, Frank. “First Confessions.” Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River. NJ: Pearson, 2006. 233-238.
Roberts, Edgar V. “Writing about Literature” Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River. NJ: Pearson, 2006.

Posted by: Josh Green at March 9, 2009 09:59 PM

Dawn Serzanin
Dr. Hobbs
ENG122 CA17
26 March 2009
Bildungsroman: Many First Experiences, Many Changes
Many authors write about similar themes and ideas allowing readers to be able to relate stories and lessons even when they may be a little different. Two stories that seem to do this are Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” and Frank O’Connor’s “First Confession.” Even though the stories are written in different times about different experiences they both are based on the concept of bildungsroman.
Bildungsroman is based on the idea of a person growth and development. In “First Confession” Jackie the main character learns from a priest about what is right and wrong. He also learns that sometimes what parents and adults do is not always the same as what a child growing and learning should do. Siddhartha the main character in Hesse’s writing runs away to gain the knowledge and experiences to become a worldlier individual. In both stories the main characters look to wiser elders who teach them the meaning and lessons that every child or person must learn. Most of the lessons learned by the characters help them to handle problems they continuously were facing. Although both characters were given good advice they were about many different things.
Siddhartha and Jackie both learned very much from their mentors. Jackie only had only a priest who taught him how to grow up and recognize what maturity and what the right thing is. Siddhartha on the other hand was never satisfied with one person’s advice and sought out lessons from many different people. In the end both characters end at different places in their life but they had both learned a lot about their lives. Siddhartha’s journey ends when he is an old man, while Jackie’s story ends after he confesses his sins for the first time.
In both stories “First Confession” written by Frank O’Connor and “Siddhartha” written by Herman Hesse, the characters go through a major conversion from young child to a more well informed and knowledgeable people. They are able to understand and take advice from wiser adults and use the lessons they are taught in their everyday life.


Works Cited
1. O’Connor, Frank. “First Confession.” Writing About Literature: 11th ed. Written by Edgar Roberts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006. (242-245).
2. Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. New York: Random House Inc., 2006.

Posted by: dawn at March 31, 2009 09:15 AM

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