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An author will use a book’s title to give important information about the contents of the book to the reader. Writers often claim that choosing a title is one of the most important aspects of publishing a written work. Titles often carry several different intentions and themes concerning personal religious beliefs. In the short story First Confession, Frank O’Connor tells us the story of a boy who has to overcome and face his fears derived from religious assumptions. O’Connor portrays Jackie overcoming the false custom of religion and fear of punishment through point of view, symbolism, and character. O’Connor starts by introducing Jackie through a first person point of view. Most of the things we know about Jackie are relayed through his emotions and thoughts, which are essential to developing his fear of punishment. It is very challenging to imagine the mind of a seven-year-old boy, so first person point of view is a great asset to have when trying to gain an understanding of Jackie. A first person point of view of Jackie allows him to portray his fear of confession: “I lashed out at her with the bread knife, and after that she left me alone”(O’Connor 315). This quote tells the audience that Jackie is a bashful child who is being forced into fear by his sister as he fights her for his life. Jackie then begins to contemplate about his sins and admits that he has broken all of the Ten Commandments, “But the worst of all was when she showed us how to examine our conscience. I must have broken the whole ten commandments” (O’Connor 316). By conveying how Jackie is scared to death of confession through this example, O’Connor gives the audience a tremendous understanding of Jackie’s actions and thoughts. If the author had picked a different point of view, the intimate, detailed thoughts and emotions would have been almost impossible to convey.O’Connor uses a candle as a symbol of hell that scares Jackie away from his first confession. “She lit a candle, then she asked were we afraid of holding one finger-only one finger! – in a little candle flame for five minutes and not afraid of burning all over in roasting hot furnaces for all eternity” (O’Connor 280). Mrs. Ryan attempts to frighten her students about commiting sins and going to hell for it. The flame allows the reader to make the connection to hell as it is a direct representation of it. Mrs Ryan’s character may also be important as it is through her introduction that O’Connor appears to be exploring the theme of fear and innocence. Rather than introducing Jackie and his classmates to a loving God, she seems to focus more on the children’s innocence and uses that tactic to frighten them into her way of thinking. Some may even say that Mrs. Ryan might not be necessarily the proper guide for children when it comes to first confessions.Lastly, O’Connor uses Jackie’s external body language to portray the fear he has towards his first confession. Before Jackie goes to confess, he tries to run away from his sister on their way to church as he is afraid of the punishments he might receive in the church. “Lemme go! I said, trying to drag myself free of her. ‘I don’t want to go to confession at all'” (O’Connor 316). “I lost my grip, tumbled, and hit the door an unmerciful wallop before I found myself flat on my back in the middle of the aisle. The people who has been waiting stoop up with their mouths open” (O’Connor 317). Jackie’s actions prove that he is nervous and scared of confession even after entering the confessional with the priest. These actions reflect back on his character, portraying him as very frightened. Towards the end of the essay, Jackie and the priest become closer friends and his fears are eased shown by their shared conversation as they walk outside the church: “He had me there for a full ten minutes talking, and then walked out the chapel yard with me. I knew now I wouldn’t die in the night and come back, leaving marks on my mother’s furniture” (O’Connor 319). The priest then forgives him as Jackie realizes that he was not really serious about killing them, he was just very troubled and agitated.In Catholicism, the Sacrament of Penance is the method in which one confesses his or her sins through a priest. Most people are afraid of their first confession because they do not know what to expect from the priest. The priest is actually not there to lecture or scold you but rather show you God’s mercy. Through the first person point of view, character of Jackie, and symbolism, Frank O’Connor is able to portray Jackie as a fearful, young boy who is afraid he will not be forgiven for his sins and therefore end up in hell. Jackie overcomes the stereotypes of false religious beliefs concerning sin, confession, and hell through facing his greatest fear: his first confession.

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