The First Day is a short story written by Edward P. Jones, first released in The Atlantic Monthly. The book was published in The Atlantic Monthly for the first time on January 2002, and was later found in Edward P. Jones’s short story collection The Known World (2003). The setting of the story takes place at an unspecified plantation during the antebellum period. The narrator focuses on speaking about his life as a slave, specifically the beginning of it when he first came to work at this unnamed plantation.
He goes into detail about how other slaves were treated and how their relationships with each other developed over time. The story begins with two men walking from one side of the plantation to another. One man, Mr. Johnson, works for the plantation owner, while the other man is a slave. The two men come across an elderly woman sitting on her porch, who turns out to be the narrator’s grandmother. The elderly woman tells Mr. Johnson that she needs to tell him something about an incident involving his daughter and one of their slaves. The daughter, Mary Johnson, was once seen kissing a slave named Tumpa Mink.
After being caught engaging in this activity, Tumpa Mink ran off into the forest during the middle of the night. The grandfather then decided to sell Mrs. Johnson’s granddaughter not long after this event occurred because he could not bear seeing them together again. After hearing this information from her mother, Mr. Johnson tells the narrator’s grandmother that he will tell his daughter to stay clear of Tumpa Mink, but warns her about keeping this type of information between themselves.
The short story ends with the two men parting ways after having this conversation; Mr. Johnson goes back to his plantation while the slave returns to work on the other side of the farm . On The First Day, Edward P. Jones writes about how slaves were treated in a plantation environment while addressing many different themes at once. The theme of family is often brought up throughout The First Day, which leaves readers wondering if these two people are really who they say they are or not . The relationship between Mary Johnson and Tumpa Mink doesn’t seem like it would be anything that would threaten their relationship with their families.
The two people were previously seen kissing with the knowledge of the grandmother and grandfather, but no one ever said anything about this event to Mr. Johnson so he could go and separate the couple for good . The theme of family is also present in The First Day because of how many slaves were forced to leave their homes after they were sold by the plantation owner . The fact that someone had enough money to buy all these slaves meant that they wanted them badly for some reason or another , which set off a chain reaction where people are forced to start over entirely on different plantations.
The story The First Day is about a young boy who has immigrated to the United States from Jamaica with his mother, Lisa. The two are living in New York City in an apartment that belongs to Lisa’s sister, Sue. The story begins when the main character, Justin, enters into Justina Bishop’s class for the first time. The teacher, Miss Bishop, is new to teaching her fall class which includes Justin. The story recounts Justina’s first day of teaching the student body at PS 87 in Harlem New York City during her second year.
The theme of The First Day by Edward P. Jones is similar to the book The Bluest Eye, which follows a young African-American girl through struggles with self-esteem and society’s judgment about beauty through many trials. The First Day begins on the first day of school for Miss Bishop’s class, who are mostly African Americans with Afro-Caribbean immigrants like Lisa included in the class as well .
The students are not familiar with each other so it makes it difficult for them to ‘“help each other and to begin to establish a rapport with each other and their teacher. The story takes place in Harlem, New York City. The class is made up of people who have immigrated from many different places such as The Dominican Republic, Saint Lucy (an island off the North East coast of Hispaniola), The Lesser Antilles, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados and even native African Americans such as Lisa.
The students are lively throughout the day; they discuss cultures and traditions that children in their particular grandparents’ countries learned when they were young . The topic changes over time but never loses its vigor or excitement. This excites Miss Bishop because she was hoping that the students would introduce her to a culture that could have been previously unknown to her. The students help each other with their work and encourage one another when one student is struggling .
The class has a very positive vibe throughout the day, which makes Miss Bishop pleased at how good of a start it had been. In The First Day, Edward P. Jones uses several key elements that contribute to the stories meaning and symbolism, such as The National Association for The Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Lisa’s skin color, Incoming mail from Jamaica, The Charles Drew School For Boys in Kingston, Jamaica and The British West Indies Regiment. The NAACP is used multiple times during The First Day by Edward P.
Jones because Justina’s father was an active member in The NAACP. The main character, Justina Bishop, describes her father as a ‘“tall man with a full head of hair and a quick smile… The first time I saw him he was wearing his navy blue suit, white shirt and black tie with The National Association for The Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) pin on it. ” . The NAACP is used throughout the short story to symbolize just how important The NAACP was to this family.
This organization directly affects how Justina sees herself and her life decisions. Lisa’s skin color plays a huge role in The First Day by Edward P. Jones because it reflects upon how she was treated before she immigrated to America from Jamaica, British West Indies. The author shows the difference in how Lisa is treated when she returns from The Charles Drew School For Boys in Kingston, Jamaica and The British West Indies Regiment.
The author describes her skin color as being “darker than a brown paper sack,” which reflects on the fact that The British had a very negative view of black people. The children at Justina’s school make fun of Lisa because of her darker skin tone while some students who had been going to PS 87 for years had never seen or heard of this woman before. This symbolizes how blacks were looked down upon by whites during The Great Migration Era. Incoming mail from Jamaica is used throughout The First Day to help establish more symbolism surrounding Lisa.
The story opens with Justin receiving The Charles Drew School For Boys in Kingston, Jamaica letter from Lisa and The British West Indies Regiment letter. The author continues to describe how The Charles Drew School For Boys was “a boarding school for promising young black men,” where The British West Indies Regiment was “one of the most important units in The British military. Edward P. Jones uses these letters throughout The First Day to establish more symbolism surrounding Lisa and her experiences outside of The Harlem community she lives in.