John Updike's story “A & P” and James Joyce's “Araby” share many of the same literary traits. The theme of the two stories revolves around a young man who wants to decipher the difference between reality and the false fantasies of romance he dreams about. Both characters have focused upon one girl in particular that they cast all their affection on. The young man in both stories does discover the difference, which sets him off into emotional collapse. One of the main similarities between the two stories is the fact that the main character, who is the protagonist, has built up unrealistic, yet in incredible expectations of women.. The expectation that these men hold when finally are face to face with the woman of affection, is what sends the final blow of reality. They suffer rejection by the women they have strong affection for. Their confusion of the world is shown in the descriptions both men use when describing the town in “A&P” and the bazaar in “Araby” Sammy speaks of the people in his town, describing the customers as sheep. In his mind the town has become so boring that the citizens have been brained washed into mindless sheep. In “Araby” the bazaar is exaggerated in the way its building is described by the boy as “A large building which displayed a magical name” the boy is seeing the bazaar as the only place that will have the right gift to win the girls affection, and not the flea market it actually is. The primary focal point is the young mans love for a completely unattaiable girl who unknowingly causes a boy to become confused on whether his feelings are of lust, or if his feelings are honorable. This is shown in “A&P” when Sammy quits his job in protest over the girls being mistreated. He hopes to impress the girls by doing so. This example of self-deception is seen in both stories.
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