Theme Of A & P And Miss Brill

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The desire to change motivates humans to make the decisions they make. John Updike’s “A&P” and Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” both explore the desires and reactions of ordinary characters. “A&P” introduces Sammy as a teenage boy, unsatisfied with his standard cashier job at a convenience store when three girls who enter the grocery store spark Sammy’s dissatisfaction with his current status in life. “Miss Brill” portrays a story about an elderly woman for whom fox fur symbolizes her yearning for importance and popularity in society. Through new characters and old characters stimulating a change in feelings, both characters ultimately have the choice to escape their myopic world or further confine themselves in it. Although both “A&P” and “Miss Brill” focus on the protagonists’ desire to escape restrictive societies, “A&P” proposes that restraint can extract courage and confrontation leading to change, while “Miss Brill” suggests that such restrictions result in avoidance, retreat, and further self-confinement.
Updike and Mansfield both set up their stories where the influential external forces are introduced to Sammy and Miss Brill, who start out in undesirable confinements, leading these forces to catalyze each characters’ initial escape from societal constraints. Sammy’s co-worker in A&P serves as a constant reminder of what he will become in the near future if he stays confined in the A&P store. Sammy observes, “Stokesie [is] married, with two babies chalked up on his
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