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Identify and discuss how the narrator's point of view are similar or different in James...

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ljm3515 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted September 28, 2013 at 6:38 PM via web

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Identify and discuss how the narrator's point of view are similar or different in James Joyce's "Araby" and John Updike's "A&P."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 29, 2013 at 5:02 AM (Answer #1)

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The point of view of both of these short stories is the same, and the narrative perspective is used to develop the reader's understanding of the characters in these short stories and the kind of issues they face. In "A&P," for example, the narration is first person, as Sammy tells his own story. He has his own distinct voice and is quite funny in the way that he describes the customers as "sheep." The account is therefore very personal as Sammy speaks directly from his own experience and perception. Note the final sentence of the story:

...and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.

This epiphany that Sammy experiences is rather ambiguous at the end of this story, as it leaves the reader questioning whether Sammy regrets quitting his job or not. However, it does highlight Sammy's own awareness of the challenges one faces if you determine to live by your convictions, which is one of the themes of the story, rather than just go along with life unquestioningly. 

In "Araby," first person narration is used again, and the epiphany that the speaker faces at the end of the story as he discovers the truth about Araby and also his own hopes and desires conveys the sense of his desperation, frustration with himself, and his loss:

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 narration is again used to give an intensely personal account, and this quote illustrates the pain that his moment of growing up causes him, as he is able to see his relationship with Mangan's sister for what it really is as reality triumphs over appearance. Narrative perspective is key therefore to both stories in their different ways, as it is used to develop the voice and thoughts of the speaker, and thus allows the reader to understaind the characters' respective epiphanies at the end.

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