Study Guide

The First Part Last Duty

By Angela Johnson


Duty is a source of conflict in The First Part Last and provides much of the tension in the book. Bobby struggles between doing right by Nia and the unborn baby in the then chapters, and in the now chapters, Bobby struggles to do his duty as a father to Feather. He's continually torn between his desire to remain an average sixteen-year-old kid and the crushing responsibility that he has taken on as a young father. And, of course, Bobby's path is also shaped by how people like his mother navigate their sense of duty to him. Duty is a major player in this book.

Questions About Duty

  1. For whom does Bobby feel the most responsible—himself, Feather, or Nia? What makes you say this? Does it ever shift? Why or why not?
  2. Bobby's choices are often indicative of his moral obligations. Name two choices and which moral decisions Bobby makes because of these choices.
  3. Why doesn't Bobby give up the responsibility of Feather to her potential adoptive parents?

Chew on This

Duty in The First Part Last is all about love—that is, duties and responsibilities are only fulfilled because one person loves another person.

Responsibility is always tied to sacrifice and morality in The First Part Last.

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