Where Have You Been and Where Are You Going
When comparing the two characters in the short stories made me think of a quote, I heard growing up as a kid.“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.” Now reading these two stories the truth of that quote rings true.
As teenagers we were invisible to life and the consequences of those decisions. I made many mistakes, as teenagers that, I now realize were foolish and not intelligent. Life lessons are tough as Sammy and Collie both discovered.
In the short story of “A&P” Sammy is a hormone driven young teenager who is attracted to three young girls that walk into his store on a slow day in nothing more than a suggestive swim suit. In a hormone obsessed stupor Sammy wants to impress these rebellious teenage girls. As you read the story you see how Sammy becomes enamored with the three young girls in what can be only describe as erotic and stimulating instantly. Sammy describe one of the girls swim suit as the straps “were off her shoulders looped loose around the cool tops of arms, and I guess as a result the suit had slipped a little on her. (Kennedy 17)
This is definition of hormones because any young man is hoping to catch a peek at a naked woman. As a teenager that is what you pray for at night. Sammy became even more turned on when her eyes moved “across the racks, and stopped, and turned so slow it made my stomach rub the inside of my apron. ” (Kennedy 17) This could be considered Sammy’s first lustful affair from afar. Sammy wants to be noticed by these girls but the moment hasn’t presented itself. Mr. Lengel gives him the perfect opportunity to become their champion.
When Mr. Lengel express to the girls how inappropriate their appearance are for a grocery store. Sammy went into a fit of anger to be dramatic from his future suitors. In Sammy’s mind these young beautiful teenagers were making a declaration of loveliness that existed only on a higher level and it was free of the codes of the average grocery shopper. Sammy resigns in an attempt to defend their honor, but recognizes his foolishness when the girls leave without giving him as much as a glance. In the short story of “Where are you going.
Where have you been” was a very hard trying piece to read. Connie is a young girl and knows it all. Connie was a typical teenager female who only concerns were her looks, popular music, and boys. Connie was preoccupied with her appearance that she would crane “her neck into the mirrors, or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right. ” (Oates 381) Connie’s mother would reprimand about being so vain and belittled her by placing her older sister on a pedal stool to live up too.
Connie’s mother urged her to be more responsible which is something we all heard as teenagers. Connie wished her mother and sister was dead because she wanted to be her own individual. Connie like a typical teenager felt invisible and she ignored her mother’s warnings. Connie is able to hang out with her friends because June had set a good precedent. Connie’s best friend’s father would drive them to the shopping plaza and pick them up with no questions. Connie and her friends would use the shopping plaza as the meeting place but only to run to the dine-in to meet boys.
Sunday afternoon the family goes to a barbecue at the Aunt’s house. When asked by her mother if she wanted to go, Connie rolled her eyes and said no because she wanted to feel independent plus she was to good to hang out with little kids and play. Connie was a grown woman until Arnold arrived and brought back to reality. This story is sad responsibility and paying attention to her surrounds is important. Connie cried out for her sister and mother when Arnold was abducting her with no success.
The same people she wanted dead for independence she wanted to save her from this monster. The similarity between the short stories by John Updike and Joyce Carol Oates shows how as teenagers we act impulsively, we are invisible, and no care for consequences. Not until later after time realize our mistake but it is to late to correct. Those mistakes are called life lessons and that is what both these characters have in common. Sammy and Connie’s lessons is simple as a teenager you are not untouchable but vulnerable to life’s painful lessons.