Both “The Liar” and “The First Day” are stories where the main characters’ relationships with their mothers are an important part of the story. In “The Liar,” the mother and her son have a troubled relationship, while the little girl in “The First Day” sees her mother as an infallible guardian. Both of the children come to see their mothers as flawed, although this realization comes much earlier to James, the child in “The Liar.”
From an early age, James has felt that his mother is uncomfortable around him, but he has always been able to rely on his father to give him the personal attention that he needs from a parent. When James’s father dies, his siblings grow up and move away, and his best friend moves to Arizona, he is left with only his mother. They do not get along well, because James has developed a habit of telling morbid lies to people that he meets. These lies mostly seem to be about his mother dying of a horrible sickness. Even though James seems to dislike his mother, it seems like he makes up these lies about her because he needs to assure himself that his life is not as bad as it could be. He and his mother may not be able to get along well, but his life would be much worse without any parents at all.
The little girl in “The First Day” loves and trusts her mother, but comes to realize that her mother is not the perfect parent that she always thought she was. The mother does not know how to read or write, and is ashamed that she has to ask for help in front of her daughter. At the age of five, the little girl does not fully understand what it means to have a parent who cannot read and write, but we can assume that she learns as she matures. In the beginning of the story, the little girl tells us that the events take place “long before [she] learn[s] to be ashamed of [her] mother.” From this line, and the events later in the narrative, we learn that the little girl eventually comes to realize just how little her mother knows, and comes to see this deficit as a personal weakness rather than a tragedy.
There are significant differences in the characters and events in “The Liar” and “The First Day,” but both of these stories provide commentary on the flaws in the relationships between parents and their children