Their Journey, Our Struggle: Shifting Between Darkness and Light

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The three short stories, “A & P,” “Araby,” and “A White Heron,” though fictional in nature, all depict how significant mental growth can stem from an unexpected occurrence or temporary person entering our lives. The authors of these short stories employ an analogous structure to portray inner reflection and growth. Initially, an unexpected character of the opposite sex enters the main character’s life temporarily and produces a lasting effect on their mindset and even status. This is followed by a turn that ultimately enables the main characters, regardless of the triggering person’s obliviousness of their impact, to move from ignorance of life’s realities to the light offered by reflected and hard-earned maturity.
In “A&P,” Sammy, the nineteen-year-old main character, states that three girls walk into the store he works in wearing “nothing but bathing suits” (230). Now, while this is anything but a normal occurrence, as the store is relatively far from the sea and clients do not customarily wear bathing suits, the girl who leads the pack attracts his attention and has the potential of changing his life within minutes without his even expecting it (232). The narrator has a mundane, day-by- day life, and his job, clerking at the A&P store, most probably will not lead him to a higher end position in this lifetime. “Queenie” the girls’ leader, gives him the gateway towards dreaming about a fancier world, especially when she comes in to purchase a can of “Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream” (233).
After the manager admonishes the girls for their appearance, Sammy impulsively quits, trying to be a hero within his own narrative. This represents the culminating points of the story. “Queenie” never notices his actions; she...

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... are fleeting nothings compared to nature’s love and offerings for her. Nature’s love for her and sticking to her values will remain her reality, not the hunter. All of that is not worth losing over a romantic fantasy.
In all these short stories, the three main characters learn that romantic fantasies can distract them from staying true to themselves and reality. While the characters they meet in their lives are temporary, the lessons they make the main characters learn are valuable for the long term. They all mature more by learning how personal choices can affect their life drastically or for the better within seconds or days, and that there is a big leap between the dreamy idea of love and actual reality. Whether a youthful spark that evolves into an unrealistic obsession or true love tested by time and life’s trials, love has a way of changing us all.

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