Romantic gestures have been seen as a useful motive to win hearts of women for centuries. However, as society constantly changes, the effectiveness of these chivalrous acts has diminished. In James Joyce’s “Araby” and John Updike’s “A&P”, this theory is explored, both telling the story of a boy whose efforts to impress the girl of their desires fail. As said by Well’s in his critical analysis of these stories, “Both the protagonists have come to realize that romantic gestures—in fact, that the whole chivalric view [sic] --- are, in modern times, counterproductive”. These stories, despite the differences between the two characters, clearly show that the character’s world is changing, with chivalry becoming more obsolete.
“Araby” tells the story of a young boy who romanticizes over his friend’s older sister. He spends a lot of time admiring the girl from a distance. When the girl finally talks to him, she reveals she cannot go to the bazaar taking place that weekend, he sees it as a chance to impress her. He tells her that he is going and will buy her something. The boy becomes overwhelmed by the opportunity to perform this chivalrous act for her, surely allowing him to win the affections of the girl. The night of the bazaar, he is forced to wait for his drunken uncle to return home to give him money to go. Unfortunately, this causes the boy to arrive at the bazaar as it is closing. Of the stalls that remained open, he visited one where the owner, and English woman, “seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty” (Joyce 89) and he knows he will not be able to buy anything for her. He decides to just go home, realizing he is “a creature driven and derided with vanity” (Joyce 90). He is angry with himself and embarrassed as he...
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... prove how romantic gestures become obsolete as time progresses. As shown above, Sammy and the boy went to great lengths to impress the girls. However, their quest failed simply because it did not matter to the girls. This goes to show that as society develops through time, these chivalrous gestures become more and more useless.
DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Boston: McGraw Hill. 2008. Print.
Joyce, James. “Araby.” The Norton Introduction to Literature, Shorter Eighth Edition. Eds. Jerome Beaty, Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays. New York: W.W.Norton.
Updike, John. "A&P." The Bedford Introduction To Literature. Ed. Editor's Name(s). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin, 2005.
Wells, Walter. "John Updike's 'A&P': a return visit to 'Araby.'" Studies in Short Fiction 30, 2 (Spring 1993)
Perhaps the main reason I liked this book was the unfaltering courage of the author in the face of such torture as hurts one even to read, let alone have to experience first-hand. Where men give in, this woman perseveres, and, eventually, emerges a stronger person, if that is even possible. The book’s main appeal is emotional, although sound logical arguments are also used. This book is also interesting as it shows us another face of Nasir – the so-called “champion of Arab nationalism” – who is also the enemy of pan-Islamism. The book is also proof of history repeating itself in modern-day Egypt.
Although “Araby” is a fairly short story, author James Joyce does a remarkable job of discussing some very deep issues within it. On the surface it appears to be a story of a boy's trip to the market to get a gift for the girl he has a crush on. Yet deeper down it is about a lonely boy who makes a pilgrimage to an eastern-styled bazaar in hopes that it will somehow alleviate his miserable life. James Joyce’s uses the boy in “Araby” to expose a story of isolation and lack of control. These themes of alienation and control are ultimately linked because it will be seen that the source of the boy's emotional distance is his lack of control over his life.
Pinault, David. "The Thousand and One Nights in Arabic Literature and Society." Journal of the American Oriental Society 119 (1999):536-537.
In “Araby”, author James Joyce presents a male adolescent who becomes infatuated with an idealized version of a schoolgirl, and explores the consequences which result from the disillusionment of his dreams. While living with his uncle and aunt, the main character acts a joyous presence in an otherwise depressing neighborhood. In Katherine Mansfield’s, The Garden Party, Mansfield’s depicts a young woman, Laura Sherridan, as she struggles through confusion, enlightenment, and the complication of class distinctions on her path to adulthood. Both James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield expertly use the literary elements of characterization to illustrate the journey of self-discovery while both main characters recognize that reality is not what they previously conceptualized it as.
In this essay I will discuss the short stories A&P by John Updike and Araby by James Joyce which share several similarities as well as distinct differences between the themes and the main characters. I will compare or contrast two or more significant literary elements from each of the stories and discuss how those elements contribute to each story’s theme.
The narrator in “Araby” is a young man who lives in an uninteresting area and dreary house in Dublin. The only seemingly exciting thing about the boy’s existence is the sister of his friend Mangum that he is hopelessly in love with; “…her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.” (Joyce 2279) In an attempt to impress her and bring some color into his own gray life, he impulsively lies to her that he is planning on attending a bazaar called Arab. He also promises the gi...
Haddawy, Husain. The Arabian Nights. Rpt in Engl 123 B16 Custom Courseware. Comp. Lisa Ann Robertson. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta, 2014. 51-64. Print.