Compare and Contrast John Updike’s A&P and James Joyce’s Araby.

To win women`s love, romantic gestures were portrayed as a useful motive. However, with the changing of time, the society has a different perspective on handling matters of the heart. Consequently, these chivalrous behavior has faded. Joyce’s “Araby” and Updike`s “A&p” two stories having a similar follow of their plot making the two poems share significant literary elements of theme and character. Despite the similarities in the two narratives, the difference is noted in the manner each description is presented. John Updike is known for his art of borrowing other author’s art work and modifying it to a more modern flavor hence producing a different climax (Wells, 1993). It is in these point of view that this essay focuses on the comparison of Updike’s “A&P” and James` “Araby.” And their contrast.


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Both narratives have a first-person as the narrator, an adolescent boy giving description of their interaction with a very gorgeous, lovable and appealing teen girl. The protagonist is compelled to be engrossed in his duty for him to attain his goal. Towards the end, both Sammy and the boy fails to get the girl in any manner, not even through getting her attention leaving them very frustrated. These bring out the theme of experience and innocence.

The two authors have produced these theme in their unique way. The protagonist in the “Araby” comes out in a flash back as his old being. These are because the narrative is an older version of the boy. On the contrary, the protagonist in “A&P” has an instant intuition which is portrayed as short and brief in comparison to that of the “Araby” (Johnson, 2017). The protagonist in the “Araby” faced his epiphany through going on a challenging mission and encountering the hardship. On the contrary, in A&P, Sammy came to his senses uncalculated after making an unwise choice in life.

Their character.

In both A&P and Araby, the protagonist has nothing to cling on. They are all looking for something that will motivate them to do different things, anything that will add value to their lives. In Araby, the boy the boy runs away from his dull routine and comes up with the romantic feelings for a girl. He devotes his life to the girl adoring her to the point of making her a god like-figure. The protagonist takes it as his responsibility and duty to bring happiness to the girl. Equally, in A&P, Sammy has a similar feeling after the three girls walked in the store in a bathing suit. He gets fascinated by the way she looks. Finally, Sammy considers her the pleasant change he yearned for and resigns from his job (Updike, n.d.). The two boys finally land on something to cling on, a reason to fight on. The characters bring out the theme of the power of desire.

The difference is noted at the point when they both realize they made a mistake. Sammy in “A&P” understands that he is the cause of his pain and takes responsibility. He uses his present problem as a stepping stone to his success. On the contrary, the boy in “Araby” blames the society on his failure, these are based on the setting of the narrative (Joyce, 2016). The boy was in an institution guided by rules and regulations. The settings of the two stories bring out their difference.


Johnson, L. (2017, July 24). Compare and contrast John Updike’s story “A&P” and James Joyce`s Story “Araby.” Retrieved from

Joyce, J. (2016, March 27). Araby. Retrieved from

Updike, J. (n.d.). A&P. Retrieved from

Wells, G. (1993). John Updike’s A & P and James Joyce’s Araby s. Academic Journal Article, 127.

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