John Updike's A&P and Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cat

Essay by sLvRk155esUniversity, Master'sB+, November 2004

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There are numerous ways to write a story. It is up to the author how he/she wants to portray their story and write in specific tones that reveals to the reader whether it is meant to be read dripping with distain, or read in a gleeful way. In both Updike's A&P and Poe'sThe Black Cat, the use of language in these stories largely determine the impression the reader obtains about the main characters. In both of these short stories, they are written in first person point of view, the narrators are the main characters.

In Updike's short story, A&P uses narrative in the traditional sense in which the main character narrates a sequence of events. Sammy the narrator in A&P is generally a witty boy who is just trying to get by his summer job. Updike uses the character of an immature teenage boy to show an unsure attitude towards women and the growth into adulthood.

This illustration is a common theme among adolescent males in society today. Updike is able to relate this to his readers through a young, growing boy, Sammy. At the beginning of the story the narrator, Sammy, describes three young girls, wearing "nothing but bathing suits" (pg. 7) who enters the dull atmosphere of the local A & P. Sammy notices these three beauties immediately. His brief distraction causes him to make an error in cashing out the order of an unpleasant old woman. Sammy describes this cash-register-watcher as "a witch about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows" who "starts giving me hell" (pg. 7). This contrast between the beauty and sparkle of the young girls and the ugliness of the A & P and its traditional customers sets the stage for Sammy's ultimate disgust. After describing further the attractive...