Barn Burning and a&P

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Kevin Higby
Prof. Doss. M-W 5:15 – 6:30

Compare-contrast essay
A & P
Barn Burning

The two books share the common thread about the struggles of a boy growing up in the recent past but differ in the detail of the setting and the point of views. The short stories “A & P” by John Updike, and “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner share a lot of similarities, as well as a lot of differences between their characters, narrators, settings, and themes. “Barn Burning” was written in 1939, while the story “A & P” was written in 1961. One comparison is the theme from these two stories; Bildungsroman. According to the Literary Encyclopedia, bildungsroman “charts the protagonist’s actual or metaphorical journey from youth to maturity. Initially the aim of this journey is reconciliation between the desire for individuation (self-fulfillment) and the demands of socialization (adaptation to a given social reality).” (Lit Encyclopedia). Both main characters in each story, Sammie, and Sarty are both coming of age into adulthood. Sammie from “A&P” is in his late teenage years, while Sarty from “Barn Burning” is around ten years old and still a kid. Sarty doesn't come of age in the legal sense, as in he doesn't turn eighteen. He does, however, take on a variety of adult roles, and considers himself obliged to act by a specific code of morality. The main character in “A&P”, Sammie, tells the story from his point of view, while the main character of “Barn Burning”, Sarty’s, thoughts are italicized during his story while a 3rd person narrator tells the story of “Barn Burning”. Sammie works at a grocery store and tells of the story about three young girls that walk in wearing nothing but bathing suits. He falls for “queenie” who appears to be the leader of the other two girls. He is so lost in thought while looking at the backs of her legs that he can't remember if he has rang up the box of crackers in his hand. He punches the price...
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