Comparison on Short Stories (A & P/ Love in L.A) by Karel Perez
“The Attraction For The Upper-Class Girls”
The short stories “Love in LA”, by D. Gilb and “A & P” by J. Updike, are two that deal with two main characters who find romance in unusual situations. Both of these stories share similarities with how the two main characters find romance toward two ladies of higher class, and they contrast with the different life style and personality of each main male character.
“Love in L.A” is a story about a young male named Jake. Jake, through a reckless vehicle accident, meets a young lady named Mariana, who is honest and higher class than him. Similarly, in “A & P” the main character (Sammy) meets a girl who he calls Quennie. She also appears to be of a class higher than him. They meet as she comes with her girlfriends into the store where he work, shopping for some items while dressed inappropriately.
Jake meets Mariana after the crashing of their vehicles and instantly feels attraction for her. This can be noticed from the story in the way he expresses himself when speaking to her. One example is when he states “Mariana, you are beautiful” (45). Throughout their conversation Jake’s attraction for her continues to show as he tries to impress her with lies and insisting on a date. One example is when he says he’s a professional musician and would like to take her out for lunch or breakfast. He probably say he is a musician with the purpose of gaining her interest, as there is a stereotype which says women are usually attracted to musicians and artists. Although not clearly stated, it can be assumed that his attraction for her comes with the fact that she is of higher class than him, having beauty and a vehicle nicer than his. Unfortunately, their meeting does not seem to end with a possibility for love, as they both go their separate ways without any sign of a future date.
In Sammy’s case, his attraction for Queenie can easily be noticed with the moment he laid eyes on her. His description of her is one of the most apparent one for such attraction, as he gives full description of what he thinks and feels about her appearance and personality. In his eyes, she is nothing less than a queen who stands above the rest of her friends or even other girls he has seen. As example of how nice he thinks of her, he once states “With the straps pushed off, there…except just her, this clean…like a dented metal tilted in the light. I mean, it was more than pretty” (441). He also finds her very interesting and stares at her every movement, while giving full description of what she does. Another apparent way in which his attraction shows is when he confronts the store’s manager Lengel to save her face. Lengel character appears to be very lenient on policies, thus communicating the store’s policies to Queenie and her friends, since they were inappropriately dressed after coming in the store from the beach. Sammy understands that it is not their intention and feels Langel is being too rough on them, so he goes with the decision of quitting his job to impress her. The way he sees it, it is an act of heroism. However, his act goes in vain as Queenie is not able to see it and he is left without a job or a possibility of a date with her.
The contrast of both stories comes with the difference of each main character, mainly with their life-style and personalities. In the story “Love in L.A,” Jake is a young male whose life-style resembles that of a financially unstable Latino living in Los Angeles. Jake’s life seems to be one with lots of freedom and low financial resources. This can be noticed with the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a stable job and drives a very old car. He is also very fond of his car, and it possibly means this is his way of emotional escape and freedom. It can be concluded that he spends a considerable amount of time in the road from the way he knows his way around the streets. His personality, in this case is one of a dreamer, living his life with lies with no significant purpose. One example of how he lives such life is: always on the road, no job stability or security, and driving a car that is not even his. Another example is how he lies to Mariana after the car incident. He lies to her about many things, including his car, profession, and his home address. The vehicle he is driving has fake license plates from another car. He also tells her he is a musician to impress her and to hide the fact that he does not have a driver’s license. In addition, he gives her, as she requests, a fake home address for insurance purposes. All of these lies provide the reader with an understanding of his character and personality, which is one of a person who lives his life filled with lies and dishonesty.
In contrast to Jake, Sammy is a rather honest young man. He also has a decent supportive family (parents) and life-style, and is working towards a goal in his life. In the story, it is given away that his parents and store manager are good friends, and this might be the reason to why he has this job in the first place. All of these things make him the opposite to Jake. It can also be assumed that he is spoiled and constantly supported by others from these facts – something that Jake is not. His personality, compared to Jake’s, is one of honesty and responsibility. He often shares what’s on his mind without lying to himself. One example of his honesty is how is able to describe others exactly as he sees it without any holding back. When Queenie and her friends come into the store, he describes them and talks about them with sincerity. He calls them exactly for what they are: chubby, tall, small, ugly, and beautiful. In addition, Sammy’s sense of responsibility is something that Jake lacks. He is able to have a job, which he had until making his decision to quit as an act of heroism. At his job, it appears that he knows his work area very well, knowing where items are located and their prices. This can also mean he is skillful at his job – something that shows a sign of responsibility. A job itself is also a good symbol and sign of responsibility.
In conclusion, although both of the works illustrate different settings and plot, the similarities exist with the main characters of each story. With both of them, a sense of attraction towards the opposite sex is emphasized in each story, being one that becomes unique with the personality of each individual. Yet in the end, neither of them gets a chance to a possible future date with the girl that interest them and this is another common aspect found in each story. Their personalities are almost the opposite, since one of them lives without sincerity and the other with honesty and morals. Overall, these two stories are great short stories that any reader can enjoy while relating different aspect of the plot, setting, characters, and overall theme.
Gilb, Dagoberto. “Love in L.A.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2008. 43-45. Print.
Updike, John. “A & P.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2008. 440-444. Print.