Within every story or poem, there is always an interpretation made by the reader, whether right or wrong. In doing so, one must thoughtfully analyze all aspects of the story in order to make the most accurate assessment based on the literary elements the author has used. Compared and contrasted within the two short stories, “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, and John Updike’s “A&P,” the literary elements character and theme are made evident. These two elements are prominent in each of the differing stories yet similarities are found through each by studying the elements. The girls’ innocence and naivety as characters act as passages to show something superior, oppression in society shown towards women that is not equally shown towards men.
In each short story the character(s) the author highlights are young girls. This is first evident in the title alone in “Girl” where the title already gives the impression of a universally known stereotype as being young, and naïve. Although the title “A&P” does not suggest the same implication, within the story the reader learns quickly that the girls described in the story are in fact young, and innocent and lacking instruction just as the character in “Girl.” Understanding the characters is important because it sheds light on the reasons why they do what they do, and give reason to the plot. In which case, the characters even become the plot, such as the two short stories referenced. The girls described by Sammy in “A&P,” consume much of the story just by description, making it unmistakable their character. “...And then the third one, that wasn’t quite so tall. She was the queen. She kind of led them...” (Updike). Momentarily the reader is able to develop an image of these girls because everybody, young or old, most probably has been witness to this type of entourage throughout middle/high school. The girl being referred to by Sammy, Queenie, is oblivious to the fact she is stirring up the scene in the store, showing her naivety. Similarly, in “Girl” the fact that the young girl is being given instructions on how to behave as an adolescent girl by her mother, is reason to believe she is so inexperienced that her mother felt the instructions were necessary. The girls both have not realized the expectations society has upon the female population, nor the conseque...
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...her and daughter goes deeper than the surface, where mother daughter banter seems normal in this day and age. In actuality, during this oppressive state between Britain and the Caribbean, the mother favored British lifestyle and all that was affiliated with it, yet in opposition, the girl was anti- imperialism, therefore causing conflict among each other. In what seems to be a sort of monologue, “Girl” goes onto contain a theme involving political overtones less apparent and contrary to that of “A&P.”
In the stories written by John Updike and Jamaica Kincaid, both are completely different in terms of plot and the manner in which each were written, however through the elements of character and theme, the two can be closely associated to one another. By looking further into stories one will find that there is usually more than what meets the eye as illustrated in “Girl” and “A&P.”
1. Updike, John. A&P. Portable Literature. Comp. Laurie G.
Kirszner, and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston: Wadsworth, 2004. 74-79.
2. Kincaid, Jamaica. Girl. Portable Literature. Comp.
Laurie G. Kirszner, and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston: Wadsworth, 2004.
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