Analysis of Three Stories


The “Greasy Lake”, “A&P” and “Araby” are collections of various stories that capture the lives of Americans in different times, especially in 20thcentury. The aim of the essay is to adequately analyze the various incidences of the stories and to reveal the critical turning points of the main characters. The stories basically reflect fear and anxieties among different characters in their lives. The essay will also reveal various implications noted among the characters.


Greasy Lake (T. C. Boyle)

“Greasy Lake” is a collection of short stories by T. C. Boyle. The stories capture the anxieties, fear and other feelings that touched American lives in 1960s. The fear surrounded nuclear-based holocaust, given that their social and political issues were conflicting with those of other people across the globe. In an interview, Boyle noted that her story about American fear was agitated by other works such as “Spirit in the Night” by Bruce Springsteen. In “Greasy Lake”, we have various characters such as Digby and Jeff, who was also called “Bad Boy” (Boyle). Digby is described as a student whose parents paid tuition to Cornell, where Jeff used to go to school. Jeff is described as a bad and dangerous person, who bullied Digby regularly. Boyle compares Bad Boy’s behavior to torn up jackets. On the other hand, we have Lake, who has foolish desires, and thus was being turned by others into a waste lagoon. The presence of General Westmoreland tactical based errors were equivalent to loosing keys of a car, because they made no sense in war. Bad Boy always tried to create a good image of something that not the way he liked, meaning that courtesy and winning went out of style. However, the much awaited turning point comes when Bad boy realizes that what he desires does not always come to reality. The whole story reflects Americans who, to some extent, expect good things to happen, and later experience bad incidences created by other people across the globe, such as holocaust. The resultant effects are frustration, loss of personal choices and humiliations, though eventually we observe that the changing world ends up uniting them together. This reveals that we should be careful in pursuing wild ambitions that end up creating disastrous adventures, like it happened to Bad Boy.

Americans are warned of pursuing wild goals, which may be wrongly driven and which may end up ditching the country into dangerous situations. It should be noted that the Americans are also warned of depicting themselves as ever knowing characters, because these are the reasons that made main characters end up in failure. They are advised to make an effort in interacting with others and eventually promote harmony.

A&P (John Updike)

On the other hand, “A&P” is an ironic narration by John Updike. Various story analysts such as Porter Gilbert define the whole story to be embedded on the most common live denominators that try to capture the middle class suburbia and hence reveal the consumer based, conditioned society. The story reveals that the rebellious actions main characters are neutralized against the A&P actions of choosing honesty instead of revenge. The story was initially introduced to the New York audience before appearing in the Pigeon Feathers.

In the story, Sammy, a teenage clerk who works in the “A&P” grocery, was working in one of the summer days, when three young women of about his age came to the shop. Amazingly, they were barefooted, though they were wearing swimsuits. They requested him to sell them some herrings. In the process, Sammy continues to negotiate with them for the prices, though he is sexually attracted to them. He imagines the physical appearance of the trio and ends up being convinced to sell them the herrings. However, the manager jets in abruptly and orders the girls to dress well next time. He instructs Sammy to make sure that the ladies cover their shoulders appropriately in future. On the other hand, Sammy feels that the ladies were embarrassed and in the process, he resigns and decides to follow them. Unluckily, the ladies had gone, and thus he felt disappointed given that he had lost twice. He thought that the ladies were around to appreciate his actions; later he was to find that he had lost seriously the whole matter. His romantic and cynical character end up making him quit the job and yet the ladies are not on his side (Walter 2003).

We have another character, Lengel, who was one of the managers in the A&P grocery. He is described as a single dimensional manager who could always plead with Sammy for his parents” sake. However, he was very much concerned with how various policies of the store should be adhered to. He seems to be in dilemma, because he doesn’t want to annoy Sammy’s parents and doesn’t want to breach the store policies, at the same time.

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The other character is Queenie, one of the gorgeous girls who led others to the bathing suits. Though Sammy had never seen her before, he got attracted to her. Amazingly, the lady did not notice that Sammy has fallen in love with her, thus she leads the other girls immediately out of the shop. She seems to have not even taken the manager”s word into consideration, though Sammy feels that he must meet them to apologize (Gilbert, 2012).

The whole story depicts that the turning point of the main character, Sammy, was when he met the ladies, because he lost both the job and the ladies. The story warned Americans of pursuing one goal at a time to avoid loosing both. It also depicts a special situation where some of the American leaders do not want to annoy the citizens and international community, though they feel that certain incidences should have been done in the favor of Americans.

“Araby” (James Joyce)

“Araby” is one of the short stories that were narrated by James Joyce and which were eventually published in 1914 under his collection entitled “Dubliners”. The story touches Araby market, and the main characters were the Mangan’s sister and one of the boys who had grown in the streets of the town. The main character, the boy, ends up going on a long journey, which turns out to be fruitless. The story involves romantic elements, were the boy left to the market to buy some food and other stuff for the girl. By the time he arrived in the market, the shops had been closed, and the sellers were busy counting coins to leave. He thought that the market would turn out to be the most fantastic place to please the girl. Now, the market ruins the love agenda, because the narrator could not access the grand gifts that he had promised the lady initially. The lady stays in the cold, waiting for the gifts. She fails to note that the narrators’ idealized vision on the grand gifts from the Araby marketed had been put off. Anger and shame strikes her in the market alone, and this could have been the eventual outcome of their love (Coulthard, 2012).

The main themes found to be reflected in the story cut across the loss of innocence, danger on idealization, and pain that tries to come to young people in love. Moreover, the story indicates that poverty and life of the mind end up affecting the love agendas of different parties, just like the narrator and Mangan’s sister. The boy secluded himself from the room and gave in to his feeling by pressing his hands hard before yelling the word love. Given that the narrator was the boy, he could not control something that triggered loss of the love. The Mangan’s sister asked him whether he was going to the town, but he could not answer immediately. Eventually he agreed, and the eventual outcome was the lady pleading for a gift. Now the gift was not given, and hence a challenge for the love (Joyce, 1914).


The three stories can be compared before juxtaposed to different life scenarios. We note that the main characters have billowing desire that cannot be easily controlled, which end up ditching the main characters into dangers. They end up suffering from frustration, fear and anxiety, hence we are warned to be careful in everything that we do.

Works Cited

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. Greasy Lake. Greasy Lake and Other Stories. New York: Viking, 2011. Print.

Coulthard, A.R. “Joyce’s Araby.” Explicator 52.2 (2004): 97. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Gilbert, P. “John Updike’s ‘A & P’: The Establishment and an Emersonian Cashier”. English Journal 61.8(2012): 1155-1158. Print.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. London: Grant Richards, 1914. Print.

Walker, Michael. “Boyle’s ‘Greasy Lake’ and the Moral Failure of Postmodernism.” Studies in Short Fiction 31.2 (1994): 247-255.

Wells, Walter. “John Updike’s “A & P”: A Return to Araby.” Studies in Short Fiction 30.2 (1993).

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