Compare and Contrast Two Short Stories Essay
Compare and Contrast Two Short Stories
Araby by James Joyce and A & P by John Updike are two short stories that are very similar in the way that they were written, as well as in the lessons that they wanted to impart to the audience. A & P is a story about a teenage boy working as a cashier in a grocery store. One day, while working, a group of girls about his age entered the grocery store. The three girls were minding their own business doing grocery shopping but Sammy, the protagonist in the story, could not help but notice and watch them as they go around. This is because the girls were wearing only their swimsuits and were barefoot. It was unusual for Sammie, and the rest of the staff in the store, to have this kind of shoppers because the grocery was not located near the beach and the frequent visitors are usually mothers “with six children and varicose veins mapping their legs” (Updike, “A & P”). By the time the girls picked up the herring snacks to the cash register, the manager came out to reprimand them of their outfits. He told them that they should dress more appropriately next time or else they would not be entertained. This embarrassed the girls so much that Sammy, affected by the situation, decided to quit his job. He wanted to be the hero of the three but it was too late when he realized that the girls did not care and was not even aware of his presence because they were long gone by the time he had gotten out of the store.
Araby by James Joyce, on the other hand, is a story about a boy and his first love. This was in the person of his friend’s sister and he usually sees her when she calls out her brother to come inside the house. He also saw her in school and dreamed about her everywhere. This girl becomes his light from all the gloominess that surrounds him. He always sees her but never has the courage to speak to her. One day, he got the chance when the girl asks him if he was going to the bazaar called Araby. He could not remember what exactly his reply was to the girl but proceeded to tell her that he would get her something if he would go. After that conversation, the bazaar was all he could think about. He asked for permission from his aunt and uncle who would give him some money to be able to go there. On the day that he was supposed to go to the bazaar, he waited impatiently for his uncle to arrive home so that he can get the money. It was late when he finally received the money and there were few stalls left open when he arrived at Araby. He sees some flower vases but was disappointed when he realized that his money was not enough to buy any of the jars.
Both of the short stories are written in the first person narrative view. This allowed the readers to understand the stories better because they were seeing the story from the point of view of the protagonists. It is therefore easier to put one’s self inside the story and feel what the authors and protagonists are trying to say. An example of this can be seen in Updike’s story, A & P, when Sammy finally had the girls at his check out counter. Sammy stated, “Now her hands are empty, not a ring or a bracelet, bare as God made them, and I wonder where the money’s coming from. Still with that prim look she lifts a folded dollar bill out of the hollow at the center of her nubbled pink top. The jar went heavy in my hand” (Updike, “A & P”). Here, it is clearly seen how nervous Sammy was and how observant he was of the girls, especially the queen, noticing how bare the girl’s body is. Through Sammy, the reader can vividly imagine how the girl looks and how or why it made so much impact to Sammy that he decided to quit his job just because the girls were embarrassed by the manager.
In Araby, the boy’s love for the girl could be felt when he related that “All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves and, feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled, murmuring: “O love! O love!” many times” (Joyce, “Araby”). The reader can also feel how strongly and passionate he is to the girl when he said “Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand. My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom” (Joyce, “Araby”). It is not difficult to imagine how in love the protagonist was to the girl when reading these lines. The reader can also feel the protagonist’s disappointment and realization at the end of the story when he found out that his money is not enough to buy the girl a present.
Both of the authors’ messages could be clearly felt through the protagonists of the stories because of how the stories were written. The authors wanted to the readers to realize that dreams and realities of life can be very different. The protagonists in the stories allowed themselves to be controlled by their emotions without considering the realities and harshness of life. Sammy quit his job because he thought that the girls will see him as their hero only to realize that the girls have left and did not care about him. He did not think about what would happen to him after he quit his job and felt strongly that it was the right thing to do at the moment. The boy in Araby realized that the adult world is harsh and love and emotions play only a part of it. The stories, although different on the level of how they were written by the authors, had the same point of narrative view, which made it more meaningful and easier to understand to the readers.
Joyce, James. “Araby.” The Literature Network. 1 May 2009 <http://www.online-l iterature.com/james_joyce/954/>
Updike, John. “A & P.” Tiger Town. 1 May 2009 <http://www.tiger-town.com/whatnot/updike/>