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Pride In The Lesson And Sammy John Updike's A & P

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One of the seven deadly sins is the act of having too much pride. Pride in general is not an evil feeling to have. It is human to have pride in oneself, but having too much pride is unhealthy and will cause problems somewhere along the way. Two characters who show a harmful amount of pride are Sylvia from Toni Bambara’s “The Lesson” and Sammy John Updike’s “A&P”. A famous quotation states “Pride (arrogance) comes before Destruction... and a haughty spirit, before a fall.” A student, Destiny Orihuela claims that the said quotation applies perfectly to Sylvia and Sammy. The two characters do support the adage as Orihuela claims. Sylvia and Sammy look down on others and believe themselves to be better, the two will not admit they are ever wrong…show more content…
Like the title suggests, there is a lesson learned at the end of Bambara’s story but Sylvia has a hard time admitting she learned anything. When asked about what they’ve learned, Sylvia “[walks] away and Sugar has to run to catch up”(Bambara 6). Since Sylvia is the narrator, readers are aware of her thoughts and know Sylvia has indeed learned a lesson. This is clear when Sylvia talks about the importance of $35 to her family compared to the people who shop at FAO. Instead, Sylvia stays silent when asked, not wanting Miss Moore to know she has learned something. Sylvia will never admit it; she’s too stubborn. Not only does Sylvia not want to admit she learned a lesson, she doesn’t want her friends admitting it as well. As Sugar starts answering Miss Moore’s question, Sylvia “[stands] on her foot so she don’t continue” (Bambara 5). Sylvia does not want Miss Moore to believe she is right and her teachings are effective. As for Sammy, his stubbornness is shown when he quits his job. Quitting his job was a spontaneous decision he made to protect his ego. Lengel calls out “you don 't want to do this” but Sammy keeps walking (Updike 5). Sammy’s stubbornness to admit he’s wrong can be interpreted by the quotation: “It 's true, I don 't. But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it 's fatal not to go through with it” (Updike 5). Sammy agrees with Lengel that he made a…show more content…
The choices made at the end of each story were made due to characters pride getting the best of them and can be predicted to harm them in the future. After walking away from Miss Moore, Sylvia thinks about the day and claims “ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin” (Bambara 6). Throughout the story, Sylvia has pessimistic thoughts that may affect her future. By not admitting she learned something, it can be inferred that her pride will not allow her to acknowledge the lesson. Due to this, Sylvia may suffer a fall in her life, such as the quotation, “pride comes before Destruction” suggests. The story does not have a clear end and readers can predict any possibilities. One main prediction is Sylvia turning into a thief in the future. Sylvia isn’t new to the act of stealing as she “terrorized the West Indian kids and [took] their hair ribbons and their money too” (Bambara 1). Also greedy for money, she did not give a tip to the taxi driver as Miss Moore instructs. Sylvia now knows the value of money and the unfairness of economy through Miss Moore’s lesson of how economy is unfair. With the context given, readers can only assume Sylvia will use the information gained negatively. She could turn into a criminal-a thief- since her pride will not let her acknowledge the lesson. Her fall will soon come. As for Sammy, now jobless, he has nowhere to go in life. Sammy comes from a poor family, which is inferred by the quotation: “when my parents have somebody over they get lemonade” as
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