Maturity Through Hope And Failure In A & P And John Updike's Araby

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Maturity Through Hope and Failure

Coming-of-age is a chapter that every individual must eventually trek through in order to grow and mature into one’s own self. In John Updike’s A&P and James Joyce’s Araby, the theme of growth permeates throughout the narrative as their respective protagonists initially struggle to understand the world from a naive perspective, only to shed their ignorant fantasies about? and truly understand the cruelty of the world they live in. Dismissing the pragmatic aspects of life can lead to the downfall of a person’s ideals, and they inevitably and eventually come to the realization that their dreams are impractical, and even impossible. This forces them to grow up and understand that their childish hopes are worthless in the face of life’s truths and facts, which largely ignores one’s hopes. Growth requires the dichotomy of hope and failure; together they allow one to have an epiphany and realize that something, whether it be an action or an idea is amiss and then, with newfound knowledge, they may reflect and adapt. The young often make hopeful wishes that can never be realized due to the lack of experience that acts as a reality check. In James Joyce’s Araby, the narrator depicts a life of observing his crush, Mangan’s sister, and fantasizing her attention. One day his wish is granted as she finally shares a conversation with him about the bazaar in Araby and how she unfortunately cannot go. The protagonist takes the opportunity to potentially impress Mangan’s sister as the text depicts, “‘If I go,’ I said, ‘I will bring you something.’ What innumerable follies laid waste my waking and sleeping thoughts after that evening! I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days” (Joyce 2). The brief encounter brings hope and excitement to the character, that perhaps by bringing his crush a gift from Araby, his feelings may be realized and she may share a mutual affection for him. Instead, as the story goes on, the boy arrives in Araby after overcoming obstacles like his apathetic uncle and the work of school only to arrive in Araby during its closing time. After witnessing the store clerk’s lack of interest he decides not to buy anything and then, upon his failure, he realizes how

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