A & P Essay

A & P Essay
  • Date:
    Dec 23, 2020
  • Category:
    A & P
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The short story of John Updike’s “A&P” is ironic and interesting. The main hero, a young cashier, has nothing else to do than to observe the customers and give them sharp and funny characteristics. He calls his first client “one of these cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty and “if she’d been born at the right time they would have burned her over in Salem” which makes a perfect case of verbal irony. He also mocks his 22-year old colleague calling him “a respected married man”. But the most ironic situation happens when Sammy decides to quit his job because of the incident with the girls. He hopes that the girls appreciate his heroic deed but they are not there already. This is the case of situational irony.
The exposition in the same story by Updike is built with the help of the thoughts of the main hero, Sammy, and some background details. When the hero tells about his colleague, he notes that he “will be eighteen in April”. However, there is no much information about the background of the story as the narration is linked to the moment of speech. In “The story of an hour” by Kate Chopin the exposition is also located with the heroine`s thought. When she finds out about her husband`s death she analyzes her experience of relationships: “And yet she had loved him–sometimes. Often she had not”. This information is extremely valuable for the development of the story unlike in Updike`s text.

The short stories “Araby” by Joyce and “A&P” are connected with each other. First-person narrators of the stories are young men exploring their manhood and relationships with the opposite sex. The voice of a teenage innocent boy in “Araby” reveals his romantic side and childish world perception. He views the world still as a perfect place, and the girl, whom he likes like an ideal woman. He is sensitive and timid. However, after his short trip to Araby market he gets disappointed and probably more adult: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity, and my eyes burned with anguish and anger”. The voice of Sammy in “A&P” is more confident and ironic. He already knows life and people. He entertains himself by mocking them. However, he still lives in his childhood fairy tales partially, where the knights save pretty ladies from aggressors: “hoping they’ll stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero”. Thus, both young men face the necessity to become grown-ups.

Sammy is a character from the so-called modern American generation. He works at an early age at a shop and probably has no other alternatives. He is easy-going and ironic. He saves himself from boredom by making remarks about clients and noticing the smallest details. It seems that he knows life, knows the price of labor and money. He probably misses his childhood years but has to work already. I imagine Sammy as a smiling and witty guy who likes baseball and chatting with friends. The boy from “Araby” is another case. It is Dublin with its grey and gloomy streets. The boy is well-behaved and timid. He is Catholic so he sticks to some religious rules.  He is reserved and escapes from the world in his childish daydreaming. He is emotional, moody, and quiet. His first talking to the girl he likes makes him forget all the words. I think that the differences in the characters are caused by cultural and religious background.