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Teenage Boys Dealing With Current Situations In Regards To Their Futures: An Analysis Of Theme In Three Stories

1426 words - 6 pages

Teenage Boys Dealing with Current Situations in Regards to Their Futures: An Analysis of Theme in Three Stories The short stories "A&P," written by John Updike, "Paul's Case," written by Willa Cather, and "I'm a Fool," written by Sherwood Anderson, all address the issue of teenage boys dealing with their futures. Although the stories are similar in that aspect, they are different in that each boy deals with his current situation in regards to his higher goals and dreams in a different way. The fictional elements tone, symbolism, and dramatic irony are used in these short stories. There are many similarities and differences in the characters, and each of the authors uses a ...view middle of the document...

It was Queenie, the leader, who inspired him to stand up for his views and become a leader himself. Sammy describes the people in the grocery store as "sheep," conforming to previously held ideals. At the end of the story the tone is more foreboding, as both Sammy and the reader realize the seriousness of his actions -- by quitting his job, his life will be changed forever. As Sammy walks out of the store, his "...stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me here after" (373), but at the same time, the reader is given a feeling of hope that Sammy will be able to adjust and improve his life. Willa Cather's "Paul's Case" is similar to "A&P" in that it is about a teenage boy, Paul, who longs for a different lifestyle. But instead of simply quitting his job, like Sammy, he goes to great lengths -- such as stealing money and running away to New York -- to live the extravagant life to which he feels entitled. Paul works at Carnegie Hall as a teenager, where he is "...a model usher" (179). The theater is the only place where Paul really feels happy, and he feels he was meant to live the luxurious lifestyle of the actors and musicians who perform there. During this time in his life, Paul wore a "...scandalous red carnation" (178), which symbolizes his vibrant, youthful fantasies of living in a world of beautiful art, music, and money. Unlike Updike's "A&P," Cather uses many references to the fine arts to add to the glamor of her story. Cather mentions several painters and pieces of artwork, as well as making several literary and biblical references. These references, which are abundant throughout the story, are almost symbolic of -- or at least serve as a constant reminder of -- the life that Paul desires to live. Like the performers, Paul is surrounded by these beautiful pieces of art and literature his whole life, but he is only able to admire them, never be like them. The carnation becomes representative of his life once again when he has run out of money in New York and will be forced to return home. "The carnations in his coat were drooping with the cold, he noticed; all their red glory over" (189). By the end of the story, Paul decides that he would rather die than go home, so he throws himself in front of a train. Before he does this, he "...took one of the blossoms carefully from his coat and scooped a little hole in the snow, where he covered it up" (189). The carnation has become symbolic of Paul, and Paul is burying it just like he will be buried after his suicide. Right before the train hits Paul, he realizes that he does not want to die, but it is too late, and both Paul and his dreams are crushed, just like the flower, when the train hits him. A third short story, Sherwood Anderson's "I'm a Fool," deals with the issue of a teenage boy...

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