The Similarity Between ARABY by James Joyce and A&P by John Updike Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1365 Words
Date:  2022-12-06


There exist significant differences between ARABY by James Joyce and A&P by John Updike in regards to their themes or the plot. For instance, the two boys in both the narratives employ different approaches geared towards attaining their objectives. However, in as much as there are differences in their approaches, the two boys portray similarities in their move towards showing love. The main theme of the two narratives revolves around love by depicting two young men who are in pursuit and yearning to fight their battles towards achieving fantasies of romance. In the two narratives, the boys' infatuations to girls are driven by their decisions and minds. Ideally, as their pursuit of love becomes unfounded, the boys are faced with harsh realities as a result of their decision and actions. This essay delves in analyzing similarities that exist in the narratives of Araby by James Joyce and A&P by John. The essay will achieve this by analyzing the theme of love that is portrayed in both narratives.

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Similarity of the Two Narratives

It should be understood that the two narratives as depicted by the story of Walter Wells. For example, in both narratives, the boys experienced or underwent rapid infatuation with girls. Similarly, Sammy in A&P, likewise to the boy in Araby, decided to make sacrifices with the motive of achieving their objective geared towards impressing the girls or women. For instance, the narrator in Araby decided to make a trip to one of the bazaars with a motive of buying his love of interest a precious gift. Likewise in the narrative of A&P by John, Sammy attempted to gain the attention and affection of Queenie by leaving his job. In this aspect, one can deduce that the two boys in both narratives tried to be heroic to impress the girls or women of their choice. Indeed, love can make one reach an unexpected decision (Joyce 35). The boys had to reach such decisions only to show love to the women they admire to have in life.

Rapid Infatuation: Boys' Fascination with Girls in Both Narratives

Notably, the transition from childhood to adulthood is seen in both stories. The transition that both characters make from childhood to adulthood is similar in the way they end up losing and face disappointment because of the girls they choose to fantasize over and pay much of their attention to. His fantasy girl captures Sammy's attention that he spots in the store as she comes in a company of two other girls of whom he chooses to name "Queenie." Sammy's focus in mostly on Queenie the whole time the girls are in the store and he desires her attention so bad and thinks Queenie removing a folded dollar bill from her top to pay is quite cute. When Lengel confronts the girls and asks them to dress more decently the next time they visit the store, Sammy through sacrificing his occupation and with the words "I quit" (Joyce 129) portrays himself as an adult who can make his own decisions. Joyce's protagonist's transition from childhood to adulthood begins to show itself when he changes his way of interaction with his teacher, uncle, and aunt. He starts to show attitude and gets disappointed when his uncle and aunt don't take his requests like going to the bazaar in a serious way (Wells 7). The night of the bazaar, he gets angry at his uncle for delaying him and even refuses to smile at the jokes he cracks. He even notices the drunken condition of his uncle when he comes home that night showing that he is no longer a child and can understand some of the things that go around in the adult's life.

Disappointment and Imagery: A Common Outcome for the Boys

In both stories, the boys end up with a feeling of disappointment. In Joyce's story, the protagonist remains patient and chooses to wait for his uncle despite him delaying, to come home and give him money to go to the bazaar that night. His uncle arrives late and drunk and delays him a lot. When he arrives at the bazaar, he finds most of the stalls closed and eventually left without getting Mangen's sister the promised gift. He feels disappointed finally and so is the case for Sammy who after quitting his employment runs out to search for the girls only to find them gone now realizes he is on his own and the people he ought to impress did not notice it. From the two stories, the boys have imagery of their fantasy girls and their way of analysis is almost similar but Joyce's protagonist's analysis of Mangan's sister is in more of a religious way. Mangan's sister's beauty creates comparisons in the head of the protagonist and compares her to the Queen of Heaven. Sammy's analysis of Queenie is somewhat secular.

Distraction and Divergence: The Girls' Influence on the Boys' Attention

Additionally, the fantasizing over the girls create a form of distraction and divergence of attention to the boys. The protagonist in "Araby" has images of his fantasy girl in his dreams and thoughts in the classroom that he loses focus in class and is thought to be idling by his teacher.

Similarly, Sammy can't remember the items he rings up on the cash register from that moment he spots Queenie among her two friends in the aisle. The fantasy girls from both stories also make some slightly seductive posturing towards their male admirers. Queenie's slow turn excites Sammy that it makes his stomach rub the inside of his apron whereas, in Joyce's story, the protagonist experiences a similar feeling when Mangan's sister keeps turning her silver bracelet around her wrist as they have a brief chat (Updike 23). Indeed, Mangan's sister in the narrative by Araby and Queenie in A&P share similar characteristics. For instance, both of them portray physical aspects that make the narrators get attracted to them. They have encountered with what narrators expect.


In a nutshell, both boys in the narratives of ARABY by James Joyce and A&P by John Updike had significant similarities. The essay has portrayed these similarities in regards to the theme of love. The infatuation and move towards romance impacted the actions and decision of the boys. Their actions were driven by emotions towards the girls of their interest. Indeed, in both narratives, the actions of the boys seemed unfounded and irrelevant. As a result, the boys become aware of their ill-fated actions and decisions. In the end, both boys learned the vital lesson that love comes from an individual heart as seen by the narrator in Araby. Indeed buying a gift to females does not indicate or show love to them. Conclusively the boys learned that actions driven by the pursuit to love could be unsuccessful.

Works Cited

Joyce James. "Araby" Dubliner. New York: Viking, 1967

Updike John. "A&P.". New York: Random House, 2003.

Wells Walter. "John Updike's 'A&P': A return visit to Araby." 30.2

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The Similarity Between ARABY by James Joyce and A&P by John Updike Essay. (2022, Dec 06). Retrieved from

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