English Composition II
Paper # B1
19 September 2013
Innocence to Adulthood
Any young protagonist experiencing a significant change of knowledge about the world or himself will point or lead him toward an adult life. As seen in John Updike's "A & P" and James Joyce's "Araby," both of the main characters are confronted by situations that bring them to "thresholds of maturity and understanding" (Porter 64). There are attributes that the character must obtain and levels that the character must pass through during their struggle towards wisdom and clarification. Although both characters from "A & P" and "Araby" make it to this passageway toward adulthood, Sammy from "A & P" goes further on the path than does the narrator of "Araby." Despite the narrator of "Araby's" progress, Sammy matures more after his initiation as he appreciates his struggle and lessons learned more than the character in "Araby" by accepting his fate and moving forward instead of dwelling over his circumstances and blaming others for his frustration. As Sammy grows-up in a quiet, suburban town in New England during the early 1960's, he takes on a bleak outlook of life as he becomes bored while serving his community as a cashier at the local A & P store. He does little to revolutionize his life during his adolescence, and finds himself searching for an outlet from his monotonous environment when he is nineteen. Sammy is presented with the opportunity of change when three girls stroll into his work one day unknowingly bringing him freedom. Sammy is stimulated by the disorder they bring into the store as they are scantily dressed in bikinis, giving him a new vision of women from the traditional "housewives in pin curlers" he is used to seeing (Updike 1344). As Sammy's pessimism controls his perception of life, he has become very critical and condemnatory towards everyone else's faults but his own. Although attracted to the leader of the girls he names Queenie,...
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Dana Gioia, Ed. NY. Longman Publishing. 2001. 8th edition.
Porter, Gilbert. “John Updike’s “A&P”: The Establishment and an Emersonian Cashier.”
The Harcourt Brace Series in Literature. Laurie Kirgener and Stephen R.
Mandell, Ed. NY. 1998: 02-66
Updike, John. "A & P." The Story & Sts Writer. Ann Charters, Ed. NY: Bedford/St.
Martins Press. 2003. 6th edition.
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