An essay that contrasts and compares “A&P” and “Eveline” could focus on the epiphanies or realizations that occur in both stories. Both feature adolescent protagonists who make difficult decisions based on their sense of loyalty to a particular group or community. The epiphanies that both have pertain to their sense of belonging at the present moment as well as to their futures. There are also significant differences between the stories, regarding their settings, the protagonists’ gender, and the protagonists’ relationships with opposite-gender characters.
John Updike’s story “A&P” features Sammy, a teenage boy who works at beach store. When his boss is rude to some female teenage customers, Sammy abruptly quits. Even though he needs the job, he identifies with members of his own age group and objects to the owners’ hostile treatment. Sammy realizes that taking a stand against offensive behavior is more important to him than being employed.
James Joyce’s story “Eveline” also has an adolescent protagonist, the title character, who works in a store. Eveline is engaged to Frank and is on the verge of sailing with him to Argentina. Like Sammy, she needs the job. Her parents are dead and her siblings depend on her. Eveline’s epiphany also relies on loyalty and solidarity. She decides to stay home rather than run off with Frank.
The differences in the settings are geographical and temporal. “A&P” (published 1961) is set in the United States, probably about 1960, while the other story takes place in Ireland in the early 1900s. Sammy is male, and is basically a stranger to the female characters. The teenage girl Eveline was soon to be married, but rejected her fiancé at the last minute.