A&P and Greasy Lake

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Greasy Lake by T. Coraghessan Boyle and A&P by John Updike are both stories about coming of age. Over the generations there have been many changes. In these two short-stories it proves that, although it takes place in different generations, coming of age is still a time to prove one’s self. A&P is about a nineteen-year-old boy that works at a local grocery store. The main character, Sammy, stands up against his manager in an attempt to defend and hopefully impress the girls he was attracted to, who were not “decently dressed.” Greasy Lake on the other hand is told from the narrator’s point of view, about several nineteen years old boys who play a prank on a “bad” character and experience what bad characters are capable of doing. For the narrator and Sammy they realize their lack of infantility after their conflicts with other people in the stories. In Sammy’s case, “enraged that Lengel has humiliated the girls”, he quits his job trying to defend and impress the girls. The girls just ignore Sammy and leave the store after all of the arguing had died down. Sammy is then left by himself, without a job and without the girls. When he looks back at the store from outside, “[his] stomach kind of fell as [he] felt how hard the world was going to be to [him] hereafter.” Obviously, he is feeling a sense of regret when Sammy mentions the hardship in his life after he quits his job at the grocery store. The narrator in Greasy Lake also learns a lesson for the story. He learns that one’s appearance does not represent one’s true self. Three of the “dangerous characters”, including the narrator and his friends, “drive out to scum-and refuse-clotted Greasy Lake in search for action.”
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