“A&P” by John Updike and “Yolanda” by Oscar Casares

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Comparative Literary Analysis.

“A&P” by John Updike and “Yolanda” by Oscar Casares are two stories found in the collection of short stories by the correspondent authors speaking about the experiences of young males either at work or in their neighborhood. They both seem to focus on the blue-collar workers, young males and their fun, disappointing and unsuccessful experiences with women. The following essay will present a comparative literary analysis of “A&P” by John Updike and “Yolanda” by Oscar Casares concentrating on their similarities and differences.

Prior to going into a detailed explanation of the conflict of the stories it is necessary to briefly summarize them. “Yolanda,” by Oscar Casares is a story that speaks about a man remembering the time when he was only 15 and when he managed to spend time with a beautiful wife of his neighbor who could not stand the jealousy of her husband. Overall, the story represents memories of the author 20 years ago. Yolanda is a part of the Brownsville story collection by Oscar Casares and just like other stories speaks about blue-collar Hispanic guys and their experiences, how they face and overcome problems, how they find life beautiful and how they manage to enjoy it to the fullest. Yolanda is no exception to the rule so it also deals with the experience of a man dealing with the neighbors who are going to hell for their sins.     It is necessary to note that in Yolanda Casares never showed that the narrator had sex with his beautiful neighbor, yet he hinted throughout the story that he had an opportunity to have sex with her, especially since she was so active visiting his house.

The story which is a part of the A&P short stories collection speaks about a teenage clerk named Sammy, who works as a cashier in the A&P grocery store. On one hot summer day he observes three pretty young women enter his store barefoot wearing only swimsuits in order to get some snacks. The guy did not mind having the girls shop while wearing swimming suit and actually starts to appraise them sexually showing his admiration for their sexuality. It does not take long for him to start imaging the girls doing different pleasant things up until one of the girls whom he in his fantasies started to call ‘Queenie’ starts to speak in a voice that differed from what he had fantasized about. His pleasant experience ended when the old prudish manager, Lengel embarrassed the girls for not being dressed appropriately for the shop.

At this point of time Sammy got extremely offended by what Lengel had done to girls, i.e. by telling them they were not on the beach and that they were supposed to wear different clothes for the beach and for the shop. Sammy’s offence was so strong that he resigned on the spot, ceremonially removed his apron and the bow tie. The manager tried to admonish Sammy telling him to return to work and reminded him that this could cause so much pain to his parents, yet Sammy did not listen. Sammy immediately left the store with hopes of finding the girls and joining their company as well as expecting some affection from them. He did not receive any affection or appreciation simply because they already left unaware of what he had done (resignation). Sammy got extremely disappointed as now he had lost the job and did not achieve his dream with the girls.

The stories portray the same type of conflict that can be classified as person vs. self, and vs. society. In Yolanda, the narrator has a conflict against his own self and loses because he cannot seduce that female neighbor. In A&P the clerk cannot overcome his desire/fantasies for the females actually cannot swallow the offense he personally took when the manager pissed the girls off. The conflict with the nature can also be seen when both personages are unable to effectively function in the society and achieve the desired results because of their own limitations and ideas that they have in their heads. After all, people do cheat and the neighbor’s wife was probably ready to score, yet it required the narrator to actually use her properly, which was never directly stated in the story. By the same token, Sammy could have simply introduced himself to the girls and met them after work. The fact that he actually quit the job does not make him look any better than before, so this act was meaningless. Even if the girls did not leave they would probably consider him somewhat strange for quitting the job on the spot and they would surely not want to have such an impulsive guy.

In the story Yolanda, the source of tension is the female who spent some time with him making the narrator fantasizing and somewhat embarrassed. One can also call her husband to cause the conflict simply it is because of him his wife was hiding in their neighbor’s place. Anyways, as the French proverb goes “cherchez la famme” and indeed the females were the cause of tension in the two stories.

The climax in the two stories occurs in a somewhat different ways. In Yolanda the female simply leaves the place making the narrator somewhat wondering yet rather happy that he managed to spend some good time with her. This is an example of internal conflict resolution. In A&P, the climax can be seen in Sammy resigning on the spot and ceremonially removing the apron. This act is clearly an external type of conflict resolution.

Finally, it is necessary to note that “A&P” by John Updike and “Yolanda” by Oscar Casares are rather similar for using the male protagonists, blue-collar workers and young individuals who actually failed to achieve their fantasies and desires. The two stories albeit written by different authors appears to be the same in the way of approaching the fantasies and problems of young males. They illustrated that males have roughly similar fantasies and ideas related to females and that they might act irrationally and haphazardly while fantasizing. Ultimately, they might have different conflict resolutions which might not actually benefit them in any way.



A&P. https://littletonpublicschools.net/sites/default/files/HHS-2015-Eng-10%20Honors%20Summer%20reading_1.pdf


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