The Harlem Dancer Comparative Essay

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In the two pieces “A&P” by John Updike and “The Harlem Dancer” by Claude McKay both the narrator and speaker see women as nothing more than beautiful objects, symbols of elegance and status. However, it is these thoughts that ultimately lead them to become morally better and draw new conclusions about not only themselves but women as well. In the beginning of “A&P” we see Sammy, the narrator observe “three girls in nothing but bathing suits”(1624). He denotes each of their characteristics in vivid detail describing one girl’s butt as a “sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs”(1624). This lengthy description shows us how captivated Sammy is by this sight; he doesn’t mention her face. Sammy is so bewitched by this sight he cannot “ remember if [he] rang… up… a box of HiHo …show more content…

Sammy worships one of these girls as “the queen”(1625), putting her on a pedestal high above everyone else. It is this idea however, that ultimately leads him to his act of heroism when he stands up to his boss and says “I quit”(1629). He is rebelling in response to his boss’s berating of the girls, angry on their behalf. Although, Sammy’s true character shows through when he is given the chance to back down when his boss asks him “Did you say something, Sammy?”(1629) and he refuses again saying “I said I quit”(1629) unnecessary? even though the girls have already left. He is no longer doing it solely for the girls but for himself too. The same can be said for the speaker in “The Harlem Dancer” when he realizes “looking at her falsely-smiling face,/ [he] knew her self was not in that strange place”(13-14).The speaker finally grasps that the exotic dancer is more than just a beautiful body. He finally looks at her face rather than just her body and

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