Protagonists’ Desire for change
In “A&P” by John Updike and “Araby” by James Joyce the protagonists make important life decisions. Both stories are about young men, leading dull lives, who go through a major change, while trying to escape from their lives. In both stories this change takes place while trying to please a female who triggers something inside them, causing them to act. “Araby” is different from “A&P” because it has religious elements as well as a connection through alienation. In “Araby” the narrator is closely following the crush that he has on Mangan’s sister. The narrator makes a kind of gesture to take Mangan’s sister to the bazaar, but she turns it down because of ...view middle of the document...
In this way, the reader knows that both the characters are not happy with the lives they are leading. Everything that they talk about gains complexity.
With nothing to hold on to, both protagonists search for something that will give them the courage to change, something that will spice up their lives. In ‘Araby’ the boy is trying to escape from his boring everyday life which is his supposed love for this girl, Mangan’s sister. She is the only light in the dark life, and his only source for joy. He devotes himself to this girl so much that she becomes a god-like figure: “The light from the lamp caught the white curve on her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and, falling, lit up the hand upon the railing,” (Joyce 92). This comment which intensely details Mangan’s sister’s god-like figure tells the reader that the narrator has a deep infatuation with her.
Whereas, in “A&P” Sammy sees the girl he calls ‘Queenie’ a beautiful teenager in a bathing suit and develops an infatuation for her. Sammy rings up the girls he described so thoroughly, the reader sees a deeper meaning:
Hello (bing) there, you (ring) hap-py pee-pul (splat) – the splat being the drawer flying out. I uncreased the bill, tenderly as you may imagine, it just having come from between, the two smoothest scoops of vanilla I had ever known were there, and pass a half and a penny into her narrow palm and nestle the herring in a bag and twist its neck and hand, (Updike 1346).
Sammy’s thoughts mean more than just ringing up the customers; they also signal change which the girls represent. The observation also describes the way Sammy acts around the girl he nicknames “Queenie”. It is ironic that she pulls the money from between her breasts and it sort of hints on Sammy’s feelings towards her because normally people would have money in a purse, bag or a pocket.
Sammy makes a desperate act of chivalry to show his desire for change from the usual everyday routine because he believes that ‘Queenie’ is the road to his freedom and the road to change in his future. Porter says “The reader learns that the market is not far from the beach, so even though they do break the rules, it is somewhat plausible, especially since they are there to pick up just one item,”(Porter 1). The manager Lengel embarrasses the girls for rebelling against store policy. Clearly being a father, a husband, or a figure of authority does not stop the male employees from behaving like children. Sammy eventually realizes that he does not want to be “sheep” either, nor does he want to be like the other male employees, and Lengel. What Sammy wants cannot be found within the daily routine of the A&P. Sammy sees the freedom that ‘Queenie’ represents as his imagination takes him into Queenie’s upper class lifestyle:
“All of a sudden I slid right down her voice into her living room. Her father and the other men were standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up...