Style of language

In Edward P. Jones’ “The First Day”, the gap between the mother’s lack of education and the adult narrator’s education is illustrated by the contrast between the formal narrative style and the informal direct speech used by the narrator’s mother.

The vocabulary used in the narration is fairly advanced, with words such as “uncharacteristically”, “timeworn” , “absently”, “quivering”. This comes into sharp contrast with the informal style used in the dialogue by the narrator’s mother. She uses informal expressions and contractions, sometimes making grammar errors, such as “ ‘I don’t want you to go nowhere (…) And listen to every word she say’ ”. She also uses slang expressions: “One monkey don’t stop no show”, all this suggesting her poor education. As this story represents the narrator’s reflection on events in her childhood using her adult pers...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in