The First Day by Edward P. Jones

This study guide will help you analyze the text “The First Day” by Edward P. Jones.  We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.  

Presentation of the text

Title: “The First Day”
Author: Edward P. Jones​
Published in: “Lost in the City” (short story collection)
Date of Publication: 1992
Genre: Short Story

Edward P. Jones (b. 1950) is an American short story writer and novelist. His most famous literary work is the novel “The Known World”, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004.


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The first day of school is very important in the story, as it symbolizes new beginnings. For the daughter, the first day of school symbolizes the moment when she has made her first step towards education, but also the moment when she has begun to see her mother differently, as a flawed woman. For the mother, the first day of school symbolizes her success of putting her daughter in school, but also her acceptance that her daughter needs a better role model – maybe a teacher.

The school supplies that the girl takes with her symbolize her desire to begin a new chapter in her life, but also the love she feels for her neighbors, who have offered the supplies as a present.


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The First Day by Edward P. Jones

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