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Comparison of “a&p” and “how to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie”

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Brianna Nascimento

Professor Martin

English 112

November 6, 2016

Comparison of “A&P” and “How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie”

These two stories start out with a young teenage boy in different settings, yet still telling their point of view on girls they have interacted with. At first while reading “How to date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie,” the story was a little offensive, but as the reader continued through the short story they realized it was about a typical teenage boy telling his perspective on how to get a girl. When reading “A&P,” immediately the reader finds a very similar theme between the two stories. Although these stories have different settings, both are told from the head of a young teenage boy and his thought process about the girls he encounters.

        In the first short story, “How to date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie,” the events that make up the plot are very detailed. The young Dominican boy is giving advice and instructions in order to get ready for a date with a girl of a certain race or social class. The boy gives very detailed instructions on how he prepares for the date saying a list of things he does to prepare, for example, “Shower, comb, dress. Sit on the couch and watch TV. If she's an outsider her father will be bringing her, maybe her mother.” (Junot Diaz, 97) In “A&P,” Sammy, the boy gives the reader every single detail of the three girls that walk into the grocery store he works at, up until the time they leave. These events put together the detailed plot of this story giving the reader a walkthrough of everything Sammy is thinking about these girls and every step the girls take.

        The main characters in both stories have similar outlooks on girls. Both characters are young boys, who are still trying to find their way in life and fit in. They both give very detailed observations of girls but, one difference between the characters was caught by the reader. In “How to Date a BrownGirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie,” the Dominican boy was actually going on these dates, while in “A&P,” he was aspiring to get this girls number but, never actually did. Another similarity found in these stories is that both characters act very methodically and use a certain formula expecting to have the same results every time, although there is no guarantee the outcome will be the same. The characters are both striving so hard to impress these girls throughout the whole story they lose sight of their true self.

        While telling a similar story, Junot Diaz and John Updike set different atmospheres in these two stories, which sets them apart the most. In “How to date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie,” it is very clear that this Dominican boy has grown up in an impoverished environment and he tries to hide that towards certain girls of certain race. Junot Diaz incorporates details like, “Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator.” (97) These types of specifics add to the setting and identify that his family is underprivileged and most likely receives government assistance. Knowing the setting of the story helps the reader better understand the boy's point of view. In “A&P,” the atmosphere is also what sets the whole story. The author uses the title “A&P,” as the setting, which is the grocery store that the story is told in. John Updike gives details that this story was set in an earlier time by saying “Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream: 49 cents”. (160) This gives the reader hints of it being in an earlier time given the low price. The early time period in this story makes it more scandalous that three girls walked into a grocery store in New England in their bathing suits, it doesn't fit the setting.

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