Compare a&P and Greasy Lake

Topics: T. Coraghessan Boyle, John Updike, Greasy Lake & Other Stories Pages: 3 (1112 words) Published: December 6, 2006
John Updike's "A & P" and T. Coraghessan Boyle's "Greasy Lake" have many similarities as well as differences as coming-of-age stories. "A & P" is about a nineteen-year-old boy working at a grocery shop who stands up against the manager trying to defend and impress the girls he is attracted to who are not "decently dressed" (Updike 18). "Greasy Lake" is a story of several nineteen years old youths who play a prank on a bad character and experience what real bad characters can do.

Fortunately, Sammy and the narrator realize their deficiency – infantility – after their conflict with other people just like the ancient Greek proverb says, "Through suffering comes wisdom" (qtd. in Vannatta 1637). In Sammy's case, "enraged that Lengel has humiliated the girls" (Uphaus 372), he quits his job trying to defend and impress the girls. However, the girls just ignore Sammy and leave the store. Sammy is then left alone. At the end when he look back into the store from outside, "[his] stomach kind of fell as [he] felt how hard the world was going to be to [him] hereafter" (Updike 20). There is a sense of regret when Sammy mentions the hardship in his life after the loss of job. As Donald J. Greiner points out, "Sammy does not want to quit his job" (398). If he choose not to quit, he doesn't have to face "the ugly world of harried housewives with varicose veins" (Greiner 398), nor he needs to suffer the loneliness – he gives up the last help from other people; from now on, he's all on his own. At the end, he finally understands, in his epiphany, that "it is responsible behavior, not playing ‘adult-like' games that will make him a true adult" (Quigley par. 11).

In "Greasy Lake", the narrator also learns something new – one's appearance does not represent one's true self. Three of the "dangerous characters" (Boyle 144), including the narrator and his friends, "drive out to scum-and refuse-clotted Greasy Lake in search for ‘action'" (Vannatta 1636). They mistakenly make a...
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