Compare and Contrast Fiction Essay “The Found Boat” and “A&P” Sexuality and personal growth has and always will be a topic of conversation in real life and even in fiction short stories. The idea of sexuality has just recently not only became an open idea to discuss but one to also write and publish about. Both Alice Munro and John Updike both illustrate the idea of sexuality and personal growth in very different ways. “The Found Boat” by Alice Munro, deals with sexuality in an aggressive manner while “A&P” by John Updike, deals more with the idea of sexuality rather than sexuality itself.
They also have very similar elements of fiction that include (but is not limited to) characters, theme and conflict. The characters relate in both stories because as some have similar actions others begin to explore their sexual thoughts. The themes in these stories are sexuality, personal growth and gender conflict. Conflict has to do with “the battle of the sexes (or ideas)”. All three of these fictional elements directly relate to the idea of sexuality, gender conflict, coming of age and rebellion. The idea of sexuality is adamant within both stories. In “The Found Boat” this idea is prominent when truth or dare begins.
The childish game becomes a game of sexuality when Frank dares everyone to “take off all our clothes” (p359). When this comes into play the children become young adults – they do not laugh or even hesitate, they slowly follow the dare that was given with no shame; “Eva stood up in the water her hair dripping, water running down her face. She was waist deep. She stood on smooth stones, her feet fairly wide apart, water flowing between her legs. About a yard away from her Clayton also stood up, and they were blinking the water out of their eyes, looking at each other” (p359).
Not only is this new world of sex being presented in this story but also the idea that sexuality does equal power. In “The Found Boat” Eva has this realization when she stands in the water with “pride, shame, boldness, and exhilaration” (p359). In “A&P” sexuality isn’t flaunted as much as in “The Found Boat” but the idea is still very much there. The three girls in the story, Queenie and her two sidekicks flaunt their young bodies in very small bikini bathing suits in a small, conservative, town general store.
Their “dirty-pink—beige…bathing suits with a little nubble all over it” (p371) is one of the very few examples of sexuality throughout this story. Other than sexuality the idea of personal growth is intertwined throughout these stories. Eva, in “The Found Boat” experiences this idea of growth when Clayton tells her to heat up the tar. “But Eva could see now, and she picked up the lid with the stove-lifter, and took the poker and poked up a flame. She stirred the tar as it softened. She felt privileged” (p357).
Eva becomes a “women” at this time – she is allowed to use the stove alone, which to any girl (real and fiction) sees and understands that it is and always will be a sign of growth from a child to a young woman. When Sammy not only quits but also defends the girls to Lengel, “You didn’t have to embarrass them. ” (p373), he grows as a man – he is able to understand the idea of lust, sex and the idea of following his heart. The characters though out the stories have similar traits even though they are depicted in different actions.
Eva, from “The Found Boat” and Queenie, from “A&P” both contain a sexual ambiance. Eva is naked in front of the young man in the water while freely showing and expressing her sexuality. Queenie’s way of expressing her sexuality is subtle compared to Eva’s but is still just as effective. When she enters the store, “…the straps were down. They were off her shoulders looped loose around the cool tops of her arms…” (p371), it shows that freedom and sexuality that she has and isn’t afraid of showing. Other characters that are very similar are Clayton, from “The Found Boat” and Sammy, from “A&P”.
Both of these young men grow more mentally than anything else throughout these stories; they are able to experience sexual thoughts. Clayton see’s the body of a naked young woman and is in awe, “He hooted to see it, a loud self-conscious sound that nobody would have expected, from him” (p359). Sammy experiences these thoughts throughout the story; from the time that the three girls arrived to the time that they leave. He grows though when he quits (p373) to follow the girl of his dreams. Battle of the sexes is a conflict that both stories experience.
In “The Found Boat” the major conflict consist of who gets the actual boat. The girls, Eva and Carol, believe that they should keep and have privileges to the boat because they are the ones who found it. While the boys; Frank, Bud and Clayton, believe that it is their right to keep the boat because they are the ones who restored the boat. In “A&P” the battle of the sex’s conflict deals with Lengel and Queenie and her two friends. Queenie and her friends think that it is perfectly appropriate to dress in only their bathing suits while entering the A&P.
They do not see the problem with not wearing cover up clothing inside of a store because they believe that they are only going to be in the actual store for just a moment because they are doing a favor for their parents. Lengel tries to tell the girls that they are dressed inappropriately for the store and that they need to cover up, especially their shoulders. Both the girls and Lengel are not able to come up with a compromise other than the girls purchasing their “Fancy Herring Sancks” (p373) and then leaving as soon as possible.
The similarities in this story are just incredible. Though the stories do not match up perfectly they both contain the same ideas, concepts and multiple elements of fiction. Sexuality and coming of age are very important and dynamic things to that need to be shared and discussed not only in real life but in fictional stories. Alice Munro and John Updike depict these ideas perfectly and are able to show that though they have the same idea it can be experienced in different and all situations.