Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “First Love” is a short story that depicts love in its many forms; it is the central theme in the story, illustrating how love shapes the life of the protagonist. In The main character is a 14-year-old Puerto-Rican girl who is deeply in love with the senior boy in her school – an Italian, a member of the rich family. The girl is so obsessed with the boy that she goes out of her way on several occasions to get his attention and appear in the same environment with him. The girl refers to the boy who works at a store near her block as her “love”, and she often tries to go to this store and see the boy, sometimes even when they don’t engage in conversation. Consequently, she often uses the excuse that they are out of milk at her house to go to the store and see the boy of her dreams.
At the beginning of the story, the girl is shy and naïve. She is not vastly experienced in matters involving love and romantic relationships. On one particular occasion, the boy notices her and engages in a brief conversation with her; as a result, the girl becomes filled with emotions and joy. Consequently, this incidence makes her even more determined to meet the boy and she describes it as a success that he had noticed her.
Another source of conflict in the story is how the girl is rejected for a role in the school’s Greek drama play despite her having the highest average in the church history class. A Polish girl was chosen for the role simply because she was deemed exceptionally pretty. Even during the banquet, the girl is envious of how other girls have better costumes than her and she thinks that people consider her as the “poor little Puerto Rican girl”. This brings to light the issue of social inequality; it troubles the girl so much so that she hides in the bathroom after the play attempting to leave after everybody else. Eventually, the ‘boy of her adolescent dreams’ kisses her, but sadly the girl realizes that the kiss she shared with the boy was nothing but a “trophy” for the boy’s ego and understands that he had no true interest in her.