Two of the Same: The short stories "A&P" and "Where are you going, Where have you been?"

Essay by Nudge83College, UndergraduateA, June 2006

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There are many similarities between the short stories "A&P" and "Where are you going, Where have you been?" most notably their characters. Both stories contain a female protagonist, and a male antagonist, whose confrontations start out relatively normal, and progress to more and more surreal and twisted endings. Their main characters, Sammy and Connie, are shockingly similar, and yet strangely different, one a 15 year old wishing to be older and beautiful, the other An eighteen year old boy from a small suburb outside Boston who works at an A & P Supermarket. These stories tell the tales of impressionable young women who are tempted by the delights of strange men, only to prove to themselves in the end how naive they really are.

In "Where are you going, Where have you been?", Connie starts out as most teenage girls seemingly would - she wants to be more daring, to appear older, to experience more of the world.

She sneaks away from childish pursuits, to the teenage or adult world, to drink and kiss boys rather than shop for school clothes, to see movies in a steamy car instead of in a theater. She talks of being beautiful as if it were her only good grace - beauty, to her, is the ultimate goal. She wants to be older, and more beautiful, and this is her downfall. Her foolishness and her naivety is what appeals to Arnold Friend in the first place. Arnold Friend, a stranger, appeals to her early on in the story. He is older, more powerful, and smarter. She is frightened, of course, but intrigued, and it is her yearning for the adult world, and the adult life, that, in the end, causes her downfall. She is suckered in by the convincing conman...