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The Decline of Chivalry Explored in Araby and A&P Essay

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Romantic gestures have been seen as a useful motive to win hearts of women for centuries. However, as society constantly changes, the effectiveness of these chivalrous acts has diminished. In James Joyce’s “Araby” and John Updike’s “A&P”, this theory is explored, both telling the story of a boy whose efforts to impress the girl of their desires fail. As said by Well’s in his critical analysis of these stories, “Both the protagonists have come to realize that romantic gestures—in fact, that the whole chivalric view [sic] --- are, in modern times, counterproductive”. These stories, despite the differences between the two characters, clearly show that the character’s world is changing, with chivalry becoming more obsolete.

“Araby” tells
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In short, the experience at the bazaar caused the boy to realize that chivalric gestures will not benefit him.

In the story “A&P”, Updike tells a more modernized version of “Araby” depicting a scene where a young boy, in an attempt to impress a female customer, stands up for her against authority, which fails. Sammy, the cashier of the store is in awe of the three girls who enter in nothing but bathing suits. He watches them from afar and is especially taken with the “queen” of the group, stating her to be “more than pretty” (Updike 33). The store manager then calls out the girls for their inappropriate attire, and like in Araby, Sammy seizes the opportunity to show the girls his chivalrous ways. He manages to get “I quit” (Updike 35) in before the girls are out the door, in the hopes that they will stop to listen to him. They, however, keep going and Sammy is left to finish what he started. He is now faced with following through with his actions, and losing his job. It is from this experience that Sammy learns that as the world modernizes, his heroic actions become less useful. The girls did not care whether Sammy quit or not; they could handle themselves. Although they were extremely embarrassed by what the manager had said to them, they quickly carried on with their business and left the situation, without needing to be saved. Therefore, it is Sammy’s failed heroic gesture that shows him
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