A comparison paper of James Joyce's Araby and John Updike's A&P

Essay by i4gotCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2003

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The brief but complex stories of "Araby" by James Joyce and, "A&P by John Updike focuses on character traits rather than on plot to reveal the ironies that inherent self deception. The theme for both Sammy from "A&P" and the narrator from "Araby" is the transition from childhood to adulthood, a process that everyone experiences in one's own way and time. The transformation that both characters make from children to adults includes unrealistic expectations of women, focusing upon one girl in particular which he places all his unreciprocated affection, and the rejection they suffer is far too great for them to bear.

Sammy is working as a cashier at A&P when he spots her, the girl who he labels "Queenie". She is leading a parade around the store with her two fiends following. The three of them are in nothing more than a bathing suit. Sammy longs to be like her and to be with her.

"She kept her eyes moving across the racks, and stopped, and turned slow it made my stomach rub the inside of my apron...."(126). Sammy is quite taken with "Queenie" he desires her to pay attention to him.

Sammy is absolutely thrilled when the three girls approach his check out line. At this time the manager of the A&P enters the picture and tells the girls that bathing suits are not proper attire for a supermarket. Then Sammy embarks upon the ultimate form of play that, although immature, is sometimes used by adults to make an impression on others. He ultimately sacrifices his job, saying, "I quit"(129). His motivation for quitting is the hope that "Queenie" would stop and thank him, her unsuspected hero.

Sammy's gesture does not have the results for which he hopes. Upon exiting the A&P, he realizes...