Comparatibe Analysis Of The Main Characters Of “A&P” And “Barn Burning” Short Stories

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I’m not aging, I like to think I’m growing in value. Isn’t that a better thought? In the story “A&P” and “Barn Burning” both main characters experience significant life changing events that will alter their lives forever changing their perspectives from adolescence to adulthood. Sammy, in the short story “A&P”, encounters three women at his job where he makes a critical decision. Sartoris, (Sarty) in the short story “Barn Burning”, is faced with a monumental decision after his father continues to make irrational decisions. Both individuals step out of their comfort zone and realize that the world around them is not what either of them want and both Sammy and Sarty makes decisions to stand up for what they believe in. There are many things that can influence someone throughout life and make an everlasting impact on one’s future such as: authority figures, economical influences, and confrontation with situational conflicts and each of these can induce potential growth and maturity. At many times an individual may be faced with hardship and difficult times which can be the result of personal growth and pivotal moments in one’s life. Authority Figures can make a detrimental impact on someone’s thoughts and actions which can have an everlasting impact in another’s life.

“A&P” and “Barn Burning” are both short story Classics that have many similarities and differences. Noticeably both Sammy and Sarty are both dissatisfied with their authority figures as they are each faced with extremely different decisions. Sammy views working at the A&P as a dead-end job. Sammy’s friend and co-worker, Stokesie who is a little older and married with two kids already has big dreams to become a manager at the A&P one day. Sammy has described his friend Stokesie’s life as an example of what his future could be if he continues working at the A&P. The manager of the store, Lengel, is a friend of Sammy’s parents. He is also the town’s preacher, so he plays a significant authority figure in Sammy’s life and he believes the A&P is a perfectly acceptable future for young Sammy. When Sammy says he quits his job, Lengel tries to persuade him to stay and says “Sammy you don’t want to do this to your Mom and Dad…. You’ll feel this for the rest of your life. ” Sarty’s major authority figure in “Barn Burning” is his father, Abner Snopes. Mr. Snopes is a farmer who is upset toward other wealthy plantation owners and has a record of being destructive and hateful towards other farmers. Sarty understands that his father’s actions are unjust but Sarty never judges his father for the hateful actions. Sarty dislikes the actions of his father and does not want to become a product of his father. These were Sarty’s motives for warning the neighbor, Major De Spain, that his father was burning the barn. Giving Sarty a chance to move on with his life.

In the beginning of the stories one can see that Sammy and Sarty are not like their main influences. Each young man has a mature understanding of their own situation and how they must better themselves. Economical Influences can have a major impact on how and individual may respond or react to one’s environment. The time periods and locations at which “A&P” and “Barn Burning” take place are extremely different. Sammy lives in an easier time frame of the United States growing up in northern Boston Massachusetts around 1960. This time was a capitalist and hippie movement which brought up a free-spirited generation. This new way of living was different from traditional views. Sammy is looking for more than just working at a grocery store and he understands that there are more opportunities available given the current economic status. Sarty lives in a more restrictive time frame of the United States growing up in Mississippi around 1890 which was nearly 20 years after the Civil War. Most all the southern states were still in debt and complete devastation from the war. Sarty and his family had to endure hardship and work long hours each day and grow their own crops to survive. Although America was beginning to transform into a more modern country both Sammy and Sarty lived in time periods in which take place in different eras. Situation conflicts can be the pivotal moment in which one can choose to make a terrible and immature decision or to make a mature choice with a different path.

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Discussing the characteristics of both individuals from the stories, both characters are faced with making a difficult decision. Sammy and Sarty have similar characteristic depicting lack of experience and immaturity and throughout their stories their situations caused them to learn how to be mature. Sammy does not seem to care about anything in the beginning of the story as he is care-free. He is making fun of some of the customers that are in the store referring to them as sheep and making fun of their old age. After the manager, Lengel, scolded the girls for wearing bathing suits in the store Sammy felt that Lengel was being unfair. After this action Sammy decided to quit because he did not want to continue to work for an individual who was unfair or remain at a dead-end job going nowhere, he wanted to be care free like the girls in the store. Sammy felt empathy for the girls and became more mature when he realized the actions of his manager were not fair, and he stood up for the girls and defended them by quitting his job and standing his position. Sammy is easygoing individual who does not seem to care for anyone but realizes what his manager did, was an act of bias and not respecting other rights. Sarty shows himself as someone who is confused in what he should do and what decision to make in regards with his father’s morality or the views of his own. He wants to move away from this situation that his family is going through with struggles and hateful actions. Sarty grew up believing in what his father taught him and obeyed his father’s morality. Sarty knew what irrational behavior was by his father and wanted to escape the broken mindset. He was matured knowing right from wrong and taking a stand to go against his father’s actions which contributed to Sarty doing what was right. Sarty knew that his actions would be betrayal of his own blood not just his father but for the whole family. “You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to. ” This was not an easy decision for Sarty, but he did not want to be a part of evilness and wanted justice. The character shown by Sarty was courageous and mature even though it was a difficult choice.

Sammy made a difficult decision quitting his job though the manager was his father’s friend and Sarty faced a big decision of standing up for justice though it meant betraying his family. It is apparent that both young men had situations that relied on their individual choices to stand for what they believed in even if it meant hurting those closest to them for the sake of justice and morality based on maturity. At times one may be faced with trials and tribulations which can result in personal growth and produce significant change in one’s life. There are so many things that can influence one’s life and make an everlasting impact on one’s future such as: authority figures, economical influences, and situational conflicts which each of these can induce potential maturity.

There are a lot of characteristics and situations in which we can compare the main characters of the story “A&P” and “Barn Burning”. Both Sammy and Sarty through their innocence and lack of experience made major decisions to change their environment and take a stand for what was right. Both of their situations caused them to have to make decisions based on their own views and choose to defend justice. So, Maturity comes from growth and growing older and that is true value.

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Comparatibe Analysis Of The Main Characters Of “A&P” And “Barn Burning” Short Stories. (2020, July 15). WritingBros. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from
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