The Boys of "A & P" and "Araby " John Updike's "A & P" and James Joyce's "Araby" are very similar. The theme of the two stories is about a young man who is interested in figuring out the difference between reality and the fantasies of romance that play in his head and of the mistaken thoughts each has about their world, the girls, and themselves. One of the main similarities between the two stories is the fact that the main character has built up unrealistic expectations of women. Both characters have focused upon one girl which they place all their affection. Both Sammy and the boy suffer rejection in the end. Both stories also dive into the unstable mind of a young man who is faced with one of life's most difficult lessons.
Their lesson is that things are not always as they appear to be. Their confusion of the world is shown in the descriptions both boys use when describing the town in "A & P" and the bazaar of "Araby." Sammy speaks of the people of his town saying, the customers had been showing up with their carts but, you know, sheep, seeing a scene, they had all bunched up on Stoksie." In his mind the town has become so boring that the citizens have been brain washed into mindless sheep. In "Araby" the bazaar is exaggerated in the way its building is described by the boy as, "a large building which displayed the magical name." The boy is seeing the bazaar as the only place that will have just the right gift to win the girls affection and not the flea market it actually is. The primary focal point is the young man's love for a completely unattainable girl who unknowingly riles the man into such a frenzy that he begins to confuse sexual impulses for those of honor. This is shown in "A & P" when Sammy quits his job in protest over the girls being mistreated. He hopes to impress the girls with this.
It is this example of self-deception that both stories concentrate that brings the young man to his emotional knees as he is forced to return to normal life after the rejection by the girls. For example, one aspect of the girls that fascinates and interests both boys is the whiteness of the girls's kin. In "Araby" the boy mentions the softness and 'the white curve of her neck'. This demonstrates the interest he places in the less noticed features. Sammy is equally as enthralled by the sensuality of his lady's 'long white prima-donna legs'.
Also, in "A &P", Sammy has found himself holding a dollar bill that he obtained from his lady love, to which he says to himself' it just having come from between the two smoothest scoops of vanilla I had ever known'. In the end, the two boys are faced with the grim reality that the girls have no desire for their company. This is their awakening of themselves. It shows how despair can be both disheartening and uplifting at the same time. The gifts each young man offered his love interest are not well received. No matter their efforts, both young men fail miserably in their attempts to win their respective ladies.
Sammy knows what he has done will change his life forever and that nothing can change that now but, is also very exited at what the future holds. The boy from "Araby" is left alone, in the middle of the bazaar, realizing the foolishness of his thought. The final line of "Araby" summarizes the feeling that both boys share, "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger." The similarities between the two stories speak of life's lessons and the sometimes-painful road we have to take in order to gain life experience. With these images of romance, both "A & P" and "Araby" set to show the many trials and tribulations associated with love.