Two short stories, A&P by John Updike and Araby by James Joyce, use teenage boys love as their subject. The two boys grow into an adult world through their failures in love. A&P and Araby are much alike, not only in the subject,

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English 220-59 Intro to Literature

Prof. Mercier

28. Mar. 2008

Growth after Loss

Some people say that the first love is the purest and the most beautiful, and that we fall in love for the first time when we are teenagers. In many cases, however, people lose their first love. I think the reason might be teenager immaturity and a lack of experience. The first time we experience love, we do not know how to understand it. Two short stories, “A&P” by John Updike and “Araby” by James Joyce, use teenage boys’ love as their subject. The two boys grow into an adult world through their failures in love. “A&P” and “Araby” are much alike, not only in the subject, but also in the theme, the plot, and the points of view. However, the protagonist of each story shows different characteristics. For example, Sammy in “A&P” is not as impressionable as the boy in “Araby,” and he takes the initiative, unlike the boy in “Araby,” who is passive towards his growth.

The boy’s love in “Araby” is more holy than the boy’s love in “A&P,” and the boy is fascinated by his love interest. The boy’s blind and ardent love toward Mangan’s sister is showed through his narration. He does not mention his name, age, appearance, or anything about him. Moreover, he does not depict minutely Mangan’s sister who is the object of his affection, but her figure is described in the abstract, such as ‘her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side’(124) and ‘the white curve of her neck’(125). These sentences are all descriptions about her in the story. We do not know the girl’s exact appearance. But we can see how intensely the boy likes her and sincerely hopes to get love. In his imaginary world, he likened himself and her to a harp and fingers running upon the wires(125), and to him her name is like a summons to all his foolish blood(124). The girl becomes like Venus, the goddess of his love and the most important part in his life now. However, the girl seems be far away from him where he never can reach her. I think the boy put more emphasis on his feelings of love than on the girl, who is the concrete object of his love.

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 Whereas the boy in “Araby” carried away by his feeling, Sammy in “A&P” is more perceptive than the boy in “Araby.” Even though Sammy quit his job impulsively in the last of the story, he knows himself and his surroundings well than the boy in “Araby.” Sammy gives a full explanation about his surrounding environment and people. He is a 19-year-old boy and works at a small grocery store that is located in a small town of Boston. He describes the three girls’ appearances, the way when they walk in the store, manner of walking, and even the colors of swimming suits in detail. ...

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