Human Oppressiveness in Two Kinds and A&P

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It was Emerson who said it best, “For nonconformity, the world whips you with its displeasure” (Porter 1155). With a detailed look of Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” and John Updike’s “A&P,” you will find that this quote is entirely applicable in the context of oppressiveness and in the likeness of “coming of age.” These two stories document the different perspectives of two characters’ growing up and how the role of the invisible hand of oppression guides developing adolescents into mature adults; without prejudice or even forethought. The characters in question are: Sammy, an A&P store clerk whose time spent at work reveals how oppressed by society he is, and Jing-Mei, whose life and every move is dictated by the iron fist of her high-expectations Asian mother. In comparing these stories, you will find how two characters, with very different lives, are essentially affected by the same forces of humanity. In analyzing these two stories, it is first notable to mention how differing their experiences truly are. Sammy is a late adolescent store clerk who, in his first job, is discontent with the normal workings of society and the bureaucratic nature of the store at which he works. He feels oppressed by the very fabric and nature of aging, out-of date rules, and, at the end of this story, climaxes with exposing his true feelings and quits his jobs in a display of nonconformity and rebellion. Jing-Mei, on the other hand, is a younger Asian American whose life and every waking moment is guided by the pressures of her mother, whose idealistic word-view aids in trying to mold her into something decent by both the double standards Asian society and their newly acquired American culture. In contrasting these two perspectives, we see that while ... ... middle of paper ... ... Vol. 257. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. Porter, M. Gilbert. "John Updike's 'A & P': The Establishment and an Emersonian Cashier." English Journal 61 (Nov. 1972): 1155-1158. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anna J. Sheets. Vol. 27. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. Stein, Karen F. "Amy Tan." Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition (2001): 1-3. Literary Reference Center Plus. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” Exploring Literature: Writing and Arguing About Fiction, Poetry, Drama and The Essay.4th e. Ed. Frank Madden. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 253-261. Print. Updike, John “A&P.” Exploring Literature: Writing and Arguing About Fiction, Poetry, Drama and The Essay.4th e. Ed. Frank Madden. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 496-501. Print.

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