“A&P” by John Updike and “Araby” by James Joyce are two shorts stories with similar male characters. Both Sammy and the boy of “Araby” are the protagonists. During the stories, they each go through a conflict that includes heartbreak. Sammy and the boy seem disconnected from the male figures in their life. The two main characters have unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, Sammy and the boy both have a negative outcome. They both learn that everything is not what is appears to be. Sammy and the boy are similar because they are both distant from the male figures in their life, have unreasonable expectations, and end up in a negative situation.
Sammy and the boy are both distant from the male figures in their life. In “A&P,” Sammy speaks about his dad and his mom but seems to have a stronger relationship with his grandmother. After quitting his job, Sammy says his grandmother would be pleased that he used one of her favorite catchphrases in his response to Lengel, his ex-boss. In “Araby,” the main character lives with his aunt and his uncle. The night the boy heads to the bazaar, he needs money to buy Mangan’s sister the perfect gift. His uncle is uneasy about him going to the bazaar; however his aunt does not mind. His aunt says, “...can’t you give him the money and let him go? You’ve kept him late enough as it is,” (Joyce 332). His aunt finally persuades his uncle to give him the money. Not only do they share similar family relationships, they also have unrealistic expectations. Sammy and the main character in “Araby” have unrealistic expectations. After Lengel confronted the three girls in bathing suits, Sammy thought it was the perfect opportunity to save the day. Sammy decided to quit his job hoping that the girls would be impressed; however, after walking out to the parking Sammy noticed the girls were nowhere in sight. The main character of Araby has unrealistic expectations of what the bazaar will be like. He believes the bazaar will be exoctic and energetic. When he arrives at the bazaar, the people there are not happy. The lack of unusual attractions makes the bazaar very dark and gloomy. Along with their unusual expectations, the two end in negative situations. Both “A&P” and “Araby” do not have a resolution; therefore, Sammy and the boy end up in negative situations. After quitting his job and not picking up a girl, “...my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter,” (Updike 414). Sammy starts to regret his impulsive decision and realizes that life will be difficult without a job. The boy in “Araby” was extremely unimpressed with the bazaar. “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger,” (Joyce 333). He did not want to go back on his promise to Mangan’s sister. Sammy and the boy both realized that everything doesn’t work out as plan. The main characters of “A&P” and “Araby” are alike because the distance they have from the male figures in their life, the expectations they have, and the negative outcome in the end. Sammy has a stronger relationship with his aunt than his parents and the main character of “Araby” is closer to his aunt than uncle. Sammy and the boy have unrealistic expectations. Sammy believes that quitting his job will score him a date and the boy believes that the bazaar will be the only place to find the perfect gift. The two both end up with negative outcomes. Sammy ends up with no job and no girl and the boy does not get a gift for Mangan’s sister. The main characters of “A&P” and “Araby” are alike in multiple ways.
Joyce, James. "Araby." The Norton Introduction to Literature. By Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. 10th ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2011. 328-33. Print. Updike, John. "A&P." The Norton Introduction to Literature. By Alison Booth and Kelly J. James. 10th ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2011. 409-14. Print.