68 pages 2 hours read

Robert Cormier

After The First Death

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1979

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Part 1

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1 Summary

Ben Marchand, son of General Marcus Markhand, narrates Part 1. Ben attends Castleton Academy in New Hampshire, where he ghosts through classes and avoids most social interaction. He narrates this part as he types it, noting the cold weather and the football game going on outside his window. His father is visiting for the first time since the bus incident, and Ben is not looking forward to seeing him. He recalls the fireworks one of his classmates set off on Thanksgiving and how the explosions reminded him of the bus and made him sick. He then urges the reader that this is not a suicide note, adding that when it’s time for him to die by suicide, he “will do it without any prelude or prologue” (5).

Ben also recalls a discussion with his mother from a few months ago. In response to her questions about his life, Ben told her what she wanted to hear—that the kids were fine, and life was going all right. He leaves out the comments from one of his classmates, who looked up the bus incident in the newspaper and complimented Ben on his actions. The compliment left Ben feeling both like he wanted to laugh and cry because the picture of him painted by the newspaper is “a million miles from the truth” (9).