Comparing John Updike And Toni Cade Bambara's The Lesson

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Loss of Innocence In John Updike’s “A&P” and Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” the two authors illustrate difficult initiations teenagers face while they realize the harshness of society around them. Updike’s “A&P” explores the inner thoughts of a teenage boy, Sammy, who makes the tough decision to quit his job at the local A&P and realizes the bitterness of the world. Similarly, Bambara’s “The Lesson” explores the inner thoughts of a teenage girl, Sylvia, who realizes the value of money and clash of social classes through a field trip to a toy store. Although the protagonists are a part of different societies, they share similarities in character development through parallel epiphanies. Both of the authors choose first person narrative to express the inner thoughts of the protagonists, building strong character development. In “A&P”, Sammy says “You never know for sure how girls’ minds work (do you really think it’s a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar?)” (Updike 164). Sammy makes the arrogant comment that since he cannot figure out the mental processes of the girls that entered the store, then they must have no mind at all to even…show more content…
Sammy reaches his epiphany when he stands up to his boss and quits, trying to prove a point that the girls are not the problem, he is. “But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it’s fatal not to go through with it” (Updike 167). Here, Sammy expresses he does not want to go back on his word, he needs to stick to it to show his boss he is serious. Even when Sammy’s boss tries to dissuade him, Sammy does not show signs of backing off, signaling he has reached his epiphany. Likewise, Sylvia reaches her epiphany after she is reluctant to enter the expensive toy store. As the class looks around, Sylvia notices a toy for $35 and thinks about what could all be bought with
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