Arthur, for the Very First Time Critical Essays

Patricia MacLachlan


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Arthur, for the Very First Time deals with the important issues of communication and perception. In the first chapter, MacLachlan introduces several examples of the inability to communicate effectively. As the story opens, Arthur is unhappy because his parents argue and whisper. When Arthur questions his father, it angers him so much that he throws a shovel against the garage. Later, his father suggests that the two of them fix supper, which Arthur realizes is his father’s way of apologizing. Arthur knows—and resents—that his mother is pregnant; he also resents that neither of his parents have told him about it. In retaliation, he asks for a pet rat, knowing that his request will send his mother running to the bathroom. Arthur’s family is loving and caring, but they do not always speak clearly, directly, or honestly with one another. The chapter ends with Arthur’s surprise when he discovers that Uncle Wrisby wants to talk with him.

The novel is filled with many other illustrations of the failure to be honest or to communicate, such as Arthur’s refusal to read his parents’ letters. More serious examples occur in Moira’s life. Her father abandoned her, saying that he would return soon but never coming back. When Moira’s mother left, she vowed that she would never return. She does come back; unfortunately, it is only to borrow money, not to visit Moira. Because Moreover has never told her that he loves her, Moira thinks that he does not care any more for her than for the animals that he treats. He once said that one should not care too much:...

(The entire section is 646 words.)