For some individuals the ability to understand and or read others as well as oneself is a trait that is acquired through decades of interaction, but for some like Jackie, the protagonist in Frank O’ Connor’s short “ First Confession” reading others and understanding himself seem to be a trait that he has innately inherited. Jackie is very intuitive and honest. From the inception of the story he confesses to the readers that he does not like his grandmother and or Nora his sister and gives valid reasons, such as his grandmother’s country habits and Nora deceiving ways. In my opinion Jackie’s dislike for Nora and his grandmother is justified, and his opinion of them reins true.
Jackie’s grandmothers seemed to let out an aura of repugnance, it is stated in the story that “For Dinner she had a jug of porter and a pot of potatoes with---- sometimes---- a bit of salt fish, and she poured out the potatoes on the table and ate them slowly, with great relish, using her hands by way of a fork” (347). From this statement I can see immediately why Jackie dislike’s this habit, it is not normal for someone to eat off the top of a table with no fork; in actuality this behavior materialized as primitive, especially to someone like Jackie who grew up in the city, and took on the mannerism of fellow citizens. Jackie’s grandmother simple country inclinations such as walking around barefooted, and the way she ate, seemed to help fuel the fire to Jackie’s hatred of her. In Jackie’s eyes it was not simply just her ways more so her “distance” a more severe distance in his family life and a distance she seemed to build between him and herself. Jackie stated “She knows I don’t like her, and she gives pennies to Nora and not me” (351). In this quote Jackie is aware that his grandmother is not receptive to the way he feels. She only intensifies his detest for her by making Nora her* apparent favorite. Jackie’s grandmother actions seem to play with Jackie’s emotion instead of addressing the problem directly, which brings me to the conclusion that she might be mature only by age and not intellect.
From the moment Nora is introduced in the text, Jackie shows physical aggression towards her. He states "I lashed out at her with the bread knife"(347). This quote illuminates the hatred he feels for Nora. The idea that a sibling can hate another so much so that he or she feels the needs to defend themsleves is very serious. Nora is a deceiving trouble maker according to Jackie. On page 348 O’Connor reveals the following."Now that girl had ways of tormenting me that mother never knew of”. Throughout the story Nora is depicted as a sneaky child who wears a flattering face only when people of authority are around. Jackie saw right through her and it was due to her dishonest and hurtful ways that Jackie had strong feelings of hate towards her. Jackie’s honest nature wouldn’t allow him to be in agreement with someone like Nora. This difference in their moral code makes it almost impossible for them to get along.
Although Jackie is just a child he is very in tuned to the world, O’Connor does s great job by showing Jackie’s feeling without conveying a strong sense of bias or immaturity, this style helps to build trust between the reader and Jackie. When we the readers are introduce to the priest Jackie makes his first confessions to, we acquire an insight into Jackie’s way of thinking and why he feels the way he does. It becomes very clear as to whom he dislikes as well as the extent to which he feels aversion towards them. Jackie said to the priest "I had it all arranged to kill my grandmother"(351). This statement may seem comedic to those reading the text. But in actuality, to have a little boy feel so strongly about an unpleasing situation that he would think of killing his own grandmother, shows how unflattering a person she must be. Jackie is just a child and throughout the story readers are allowed to see his immaturity and observe a boy a tuned to the world. By confessing all his feeling to the priest O’connor does a great job showing how brave Jackie is and how serious his problems are. This act of complete honesty illuminates the idea that all he really wants is for everything to be helped and understood. Jackie admits to his wrong doing. He doesn't just blame, rather he takes on some of the blame. At the same time it is evident that Jackie understands why people such as his grandmother and Nora treat him the way they do.
One may conclude that the ability to read others and oneself is a skill that can take you far in life. Most importantly honesty really is the best policy. Jackie is an amazing character not only because he can effectively read others but because of his youthful honesty. He is honest about his feelings towards others such as his dislike of his grandmother and Nora. Jackie is honest about who he is and accepts that he does have flaws; hence he is not blameless in the way he is treated by either Nora or his grandmother. This policy of honesty helps to keep Jackie grounded throughout the short story, readers therefore trusts Jackie’s judgment at the end because it is evident in every way that he is honest.