John Updike's A & P and James Joyce's Araby share many of the same literary traits. The primary focus of the two stories revolves around a young man who is compelled to decipher the difference between cruel reality and the fantasies of romance that play in his head. That the man does, indeed, discover the difference is what sets him off into emotional collapse. One of the main similarities between the two stories is the fact that the main character, who is also the protagonist, has built up incredible, yet unrealistic, expectations of women, having focused upon one in particular towards which he places all his unrequited affection. The expectation these men hold when finally "face to face with their object of worship" (Wells, 1993, p. 127) is what sends the final and crushing blow of reality: The rejection they suffer is far too great for them to bear.
Updike is famous for taking other author's works and twisting them so that they reflect a more contemporary flavor. While the story remains the same, the climate is singular only to Updike. This is the reason why there are similarities as well as deviations from Joyce's original piece. Plot, theme and detail are three of the most resembling aspects of the two stories over all other literary components; characteristic of both writers' works, each rendition offers its own unique perspective upon the young man's romantic infatuation. Not only are descriptive phrases shared by both stories, but parallels occur with each ending, as well (Doloff 113).
What is even more telling of Updike's imitation of Joyce's Araby is the fact that the A & P title is hauntingly close in pronunciation to the original story's title.
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...rallels, including the ending self-revelation and climax" (Doloff 255).
Coulthard, A.R. "Joyce's 'Araby'.," The Explicator, vol. 52, (1994) : Winter, pp.97(3).
Doloff, Steven. "Aspects of Milton's 'Paradise Lost' in James Joyce's 'Araby'.," James Joyce Quarterly, vol. 33, (1995) : Fall, pp. 113(3).
Doloff, Steven. "Rousseau and the confessions of 'Araby'.," James Joyce Quarterly, vol.33, (1996) : Winter, pp. 255(4). Joyce, James. Dubliners. (New York : Penguin, 1967).
Norris, Margot. "Blind streets and seeing houses: Araby's dim glass revisited.," Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 32, (1995) : Summer, pp. 309(10).
Updike, John. "A & P." Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories. (New York : Knopf, 1962).
Wells, Walter. "John Updike's 'A & P': a return visit to Araby.," Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 30, (1993) : Spring, pp. 127(7).
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