Essay: Mrs. Ryan in First Confessions

In ‘First Confessions’, Mrs. Ryan is the woman who takes Jackie’s class through confession classes. The first time we hear of her, she is daring a class full of young boys to hold their hand above a burning candle to get a prize of half a crown. She seems to enjoy tormenting them with stories of hell, and how it is so easy to get there. In the end, she makes Jackie feel like he has broken all the 10 commandments. This fact instills a fear within him, making him look for any flimsy excuse he can get to ensure that he does not go to confess.

Mrs. Ryan makes Jackie want to draw away from his religion and from God. This explains his reluctance to go for confession. Probably believing that he is a sinner who is bound for hell, the picture she paints of the place does not make it any easier for him to go for confession. She makes him feel that God is waiting for him anytime to take him to hell and pay for his sins.

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