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In "All the Years of Her Life," why does it seem to Alfred that "this was the first...

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In "All the Years of Her Life," why does it seem to Alfred that "this was the first time he had ever looked upon his mother"?

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Most of the difference appears to be the fact that he never really noticed how much his actions affected his mother.  Even as he goes downstairs and hears her making tea he is thinking about how strong he is and her shaken, pale appearance shocks him.  This shock is what eventually propels him to be able to start thinking about a new life, but at the time it is due to the fact that his mother is clearly deeply affected by his misdeeds.

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