Updike’s “A&P”: an analysis of short-stories.
It is difficult to define literature without being imprecise, but coming to understand what fiction is may be a more suitable task to carry out critical analysis of a story or book. This essay aims at analyzing the point-of-view, setting, and plot of the short-story “A&P”, by John Updike. Although genre is not the main subject of this paper, it can help one study stories with a more solid standpoint, instead of the means of mere subjective speculation. Therefore, this analysis bases itself upon a theory of fiction and, more specifically, of short-stories.
First, it is necessary to briefly expose what has been written on fiction. Common sense immediately associates it with “unreality” or “lack of truth”, but this does not fulfill the entire concept: the fictional element that interests literary criticism has more to do with imagination than to philosophical truth itself. All the later literary theory developed from Aristotle and on has defined narrative, poetry, and drama as the broader categories of literature. Narrative interests us as it includes short-stories, such as Updike’s work analyzed herein.
Short-stories emerge as a marginal part within narrative, probably due to the high regard in which poetry and drama are held by theoretical criticism. A short-story is a short narrative, differently from a romance, which is much longer and more complex, and a novel, which is the intermediary level for narrative creations. It has usually its focus on a single character or setting, as well as a simple plot, without major lining-up of chronological events. Nonetheless, short-stories can be very rich in interpretations, and it is important to mention that they usually do not feature a lot of details: their power relies on objectiveness and effect.
Actually, effect is the very concept that interests us the most. Updike’s story plot is set in a...