Araby Questions and Answers
by James Joyce

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Identify and discuss how the verisimilitude in James Joyce's "Araby" and John Updike's "A&"P is similar or different.

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Both of these short stories are particularly convincing in terms of their verisimilitude, or the way in which a narrative appears to be convincing or plausible. This is related to the themes of each narrative and how they reflect key coming-of-age moments that are universal to all. For example, consider how in "Araby," the narrator realises at the end of the story that his romantic dreams of a relationship with Mangan's sister have all been an illusion:

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 realisation that the narrator goes through of disappointment and the cruel destruction of his romantic dreams and hopes by reality is of course echoed by his realisation that Araby is not the Aladdin's treasure trove he expected, but rather a cheap and tawdry market. The verisimilitude is established through the universality of theme, as everybody goes through a similar experience at some point in their lives where they are forced to acknowledge they have allowed their dreams and illusions to get the better of them.

In the same way, "A&P" posits a dilemma where Sammy has to choose between following his conscience and gut instinct or meekly and unquestioningly going on with what is happening, no matter what he feels about it inside. This again is something of a universal experience, as everybody faces a similar situation at some point in their lives. Verisimiltude is therefore established through the dilemma that Sammy faces and the way that Lengel's words to him adds to that pressure:

"Sammy, you don't want to do this to your Mom and Dad," he tells me. It's true. I don't.

Standing up for your principles is a costly business, as this story makes clear, and the final epiphany demonstrates the difficult road ahead for somebody in life who is determined to do so. Both stories create verisimilitude therefore through the way in which they link their characters to real life situations and dilemmas that are universal to being human. 

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