A&P/Araby Comparison

Christopher Nguyen Dr. Pedersen, 11:30-12:30 Araby and A&P Araby, written by James Joyce 1914 was about a young boy on a quest to woo over the girl of his adolescent dreams. A&P, written by John Updike in a completely different time period, was a story about a young store clerk trying to impress three teenagers by defending them from his manager. Both story lines are different, as well as the time periods and morals, but somehow and in some way, they share many similarities.
Between the two stories, you could find a bunch of examples of how they are similar, but one of the more distinct ones is the fact that both stories are told from a first person point of view. In our first story Araby, it is told from the young boy’s point of view. Although nothing is said much about the little boy himself, we can tell from his point of view that he has a very big crush on his friend’s older sister. We also see from his point of view that he lives with an unappreciative uncle and a concerning aunt. From our other story A&P; we go into the life of Sammy.
In his point of view, we find out that Sammy is a store clerk for a small-town A&P store down in Georgia. He obviously isn’t excited about his job, but when three teenage girls wearing nothing but bikinis on a random hot summer day, he takes notice. In the end, when his manager comes out and ridicules the girls for coming into the store looking indecent, Sammy decides to quit his job in order to defend the ladies thinking that they would commend him for his efforts. Sadly his actions go unnoticed and that’s when we all realize that life from there on will be harder for him.

There’s another element in these two stories that share similar traits. It’s the conflict between the main character and the antagonist. In Araby, it’s the little kid falls for the pretty girl, only to be stopped by the antagonist, this case his drunken and broke uncle. A&P is a bit similar and it starts out with Sammy falling for “Queenie” and eventually Lengel, the store manager, is his opposition. Neither characters end up with what they truly wanted in the beginning, but it makes them realize that this is only the beginning.
There is one special similarity between these two stories is so great that the authors hid well in the text was the vast imagery. In Araby, there was a vast amount of imagery and a lot of it referred back to the bible such as when he talks about Mangan’s sister’s holding her spikes, how her brothers were fighting over a cap, and how her hair fell over on side of her dress. In A&P, it referred to how “Queenie” was in some way a mermaid because of her long, white prima-donna lets and how she came down heavy on her heals.
Sammy was in a way, mesmerized like Oedipus had been when they cross paths with the sirens. Although A&P and Araby have different story lines and plots, what they do have in common are hidden messages and dilemmas. Both main characters took the road of chivalry and romance, but obviously it didn’t work out for them. However it did make them realize that nothing in life is going to be so easy, and in order to achieve their goals, they would have to go through more experiences in order to get what they want later in life.

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