In Chapter 1 when Jane is sent to the breakfast room away from the Reed children and her mother, she seeks solace quietly on the window seat with a book which absorbs her attention. However, she is not to be left alone as the bully John Reed enters and accuses her of reading his books, contending that "all the house" belongs to him. He orders Jane to stand by a door away from the mirror or windows which may break as he throws a book at his forlorn cousin. Since he strikes Jane in the head so hard that she bleeds, Jane cries out, accusing him of being wicked and cruel. When he runs headlong at her, Jane changes from her passivity in the breakfast room to a defensive posture in which she frantically strikes out at John.
Because of the "fury" of her actions, Jane is summarily sent to the red room by her cruel aunt, who scolds her for striking her "young master." When Jane asks, "Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?" she is told that she is actually less than a servant because she does nothing for her keep. Once left by herself, the remark of her aunt and other thoughts enter Jane's mind; she wonders why she suffers constantly, always being accused and chided for things she has not done. Further, Jane questions why it is futile for her to try to win anyone's favor when the other girls are indulged and John, of course, is never punished.
I dared commit no fault: I strove to fulfill every duty; and I was termed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking, from morning to noon, and from noon to night.
Like any child who reasons, Jane does not understand her condition and feels, rightfully, that it is unjust. This resistance of her mind to her existing condition in the Reed household brings Jane to thoughts of running away or, if she cannot do this, of starving herself and dying. And, as she is forced to endure the cruel isolation in the room of her dead uncle, Jane's heart fills with indignation and contempt. With such feelings about her individual treatment, Jane begins to feel a sense of self, a feeling that will develop as the narrative continues.