Overcoming Fear of The First Confession.
"First Confession" by Frank O"Connor, is the story of a young boy dealing with the situation of his grandmother moving in and the events leading up to his first confession and communion. The first-person narrative writing style shows a child's journey through life retold as an adult. The theme of the story is how overcoming his fear of the unknown can his sense of self confidence. O"Connor is able, through various literary techniques such as irony and observation, to show a innocent child who has a fear of unknown consequences.
The story is told in chronological order leading up to the protagonist, Jackie's, first confession. This event is an integral part of Jackie's confession . Jackie hides under the table to avoid eating his grandmother's cooking , and takes " a bread-knife with me for protection". He lashes out at his sister with the knife when she attempts to remove him from underneath the table. This incident filled him with guilt and the fear that he would be damned for his sins, becoming one of the major sinful acts he feels he needs to confess to the priest. Because Jackie's sister and grandmother seem to side against him , his conscience becomes even more filled with anxiety and fear.
Through out the story, Jackie is preparing for his First Communion by taking classes with Mrs. Ryan, the religious education teacher. Mrs. Ryan fills Jackie with more anxiety about his impending first confession through the negative impression she projects to Jackie about confessing his sins. Jackie feels that Mrs. Ryan is a lady where "Hell had the first place in her heart." An example is a story Mrs. Ryan tells of a man who made a bad confession. The man wakes the priest in the middle of the night to confess his sins. The priest gets up and dressed, as he turns, the man is gone having left behind hand prints burned into the bed. Jackie begins to feel such a high level of anxiety about making a good confession that he struggles with confessing the sins at all.