First Communion Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The narrator recalls the time when, as a young boy, he was excited the night before his first Holy Communion. This was to be a memorable day in his life, not because he would get a godfather and would be able to have all the sweet treats that he could eat after the ceremony but because of what he was to see in the window of the tailor shop next to the church.

He recalls how he could not sleep the night before his first Communion because he was trying to remember all of his sins. He had been taught that it was blasphemous to go to Communion without confessing the exact number of his sins. He also could not sleep because his mother had put “phantasmagorical” pictures, including a depiction of hell, in his room. He also remembers the nun who taught him about confession, various categories of sins—especially sins of the flesh, which bring the punishments of hell. He was frightened of punishment in hell because he had burnt his calf a few months earlier when he fell into a tub of coals used to heat his room, so he knew that an eternity of burning in hell would be horrible. To make sure that he would not attend Communion as a sinner and then burn in hell, he determined that even though he could only recall 150 sins, he would confess 200 of various types and all degrees—just to be safe.

After waiting for his aging mother to finish preparing his clothes, he arrived at church so early that it was still locked. He walked around until he heard laughter and moans emanating from a tailor shop next to the church. Not expecting to find anyone, he peered into the window and saw a man and woman...

(The entire section is 658 words.)