If we consider why a coin cannot forever stand on the edge, we might stumble upon a significant truth. The truth is that the coin has two sides and that sooner or later it has to choose one to hide and one to express. Although there are at least two sides to everybody we meet and even within ourselves, it so happens in the life that one predominates while others lie in the background. Edward Tory Higgins, Professor of Psychology states in his Self-Discrepancy theory that there are three domains of the self – Actual, Ideal and Ought. Among them the Actual Self and the Ideal Self are the two sides that we can evidently see in the short stories “A&P,” “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” and “The Metamorphosis.” According to Prof. Higgins, “(a) The actual self is your representation of the attributes that you believe you actually possess; (b) The ideal self is your representation of the attributes that you would like, ideally, to possess” (Higgins 320).
The protagonists - Sammy, Gregor, and Connie - of the three stories did have two sides to their personalities, the actual, and the ideal. However, their lives took different turns depending on the way they chose to express their ‘ideal’ self. While Connie expressed her ideal side every time she was away from home, Sammy exploded at the moment of truth and Gregor lost himself amidst the confusion of seeking his own identity. Most people recognize their ideal self and want to transform the ideal to actual. However, few people manage to express their suppressed side unless they encounter an event in life which triggers such an expression. The stories show three characters, Sammy who takes a hard decision to forcefully push himself to be his actual self, and hopes for a hard-fought better future. Then, Connie who ignorantly crosses the line of expressing her sexuality in a place and time where even too little was too much and gets herself into big trouble and finally Gregor, who finds
Cited: Higgins, E. Tory. "Self-Discrepancy: A Theory Relating Self and Affect." 1987. http://www.columbia.edu. 15 March 2013. Web Kafka, Franz. "The Metamorphosis." 1915. Literature: A Portable Anthology. Eds. Janet E. Gardner and Beverly Lawn. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2009. 107-45. Print. Oates, Joyce Carol. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" 1938. Literature: A Portable Anthology. Eds. Janet E. Gardner and Beverly Lawn. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2009. 318-32. Print. Updike, John. "A & P." 1932. Literature: A Portable Anthology. Eds. Janet E. Gardner and Beverly Lawn. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2009. 301-05. Print.