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The Admirable Priest

Leo Buscaglia, an American author and motivational speaker, once said “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which can turn a life around”. In “First Confession” by Frank O’Connor, a priest shows compassion when a little boy is scared out of his wits because of his first confession. After the confession is over with Jackie, the little boy feels better about his sins and, because of how the priest dealt with him, Jackie, is no longer stressing his past actions.

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When dealing with the scared boy’s fear, the priest handles the situation with humor, kindness, and by sympathizing with the young boy. Humor can change ones outlook on a situation as a whole. The priest senses that Jackie is fearful of his first confession and decides to lighten that fear by using humor. After Jackie tells the priest his arranged plans to kill his grandmother, the priest pretends to be shocked by this comment and starts to question his motives.

This shows the reader that the priest has a humorous side to his character. In response, the priest leads Jackie to believe that he has seen lots of men hanged for killing their grandmothers too, but none of them said it is worth it. He uses humor in this way by steering Jackie clear of the direction of not killing anyone. Although Jackie cannot tell that the priest is only kidding, this gives off a humorous vibe to the reader because we can tell the priest knows that Jackie is just a child and he means no harm to anyone.

The priest is very kind towards Jackie as he acknowledges the boy’s sins. He helps Jackie come to the realization that he is not evil, but that everyone has their bad moments. The way the priest talks to Jackie as if they are friends lightens the mood and gets Jackie to open up more to the priest. After confession is over with, the priest gives the boy candy and even spends time talking with Jackie, showing the readers that there is a fondness between the two characters.

Usually priests are thought to be strict individuals, but he shows us that he is still a person too. When handling children, one always needs to remember to be sympathetic because children do not always know the full consequences of their actions. Priests are forgiving people, but the priest in “First Confession” is so much more than just forgiving. The priest is sympathetic towards Jackie and gives him three Hail Marys as his punishment for planning to kill his grandmother and trying to kill his sister with a bread-knife.

Taking into consideration that Jackie is a naive character who has been manipulated into thinking he is a horrifying person, the priest settles with three Hail Marys because he knows that Jackie is a in fact a great person. The priest shows the readers that he knows how to deal with children in a sympathetic manner. By being humorous, kind, and sympathetic towards Jackie, the priest exhibits his admirable character in the story “First Confession” by Frank O’Connor.

With using his humorous character, the priest lightens the fear Jackie is feeling and turns it into an entertaining time for the boy. The priest is a kind individual, and readers can see that in the way he talks with Jackie and spends time with him. He sees that Jackie is an innocent boy who has been manipulated into thinking his actions are pure evil. In result he priest gives him little penance because he is only a boy with harmless intentions. The priest’s way of dealing with Jackie and his first confession turns the horrifying event into an entertaining encounter for both of them.