A Comparison of “A&P” by John Updike with “The Kiss” by Julia Alvarez Research Paper

December 1, 2020 by Essay Writer

Updated: Apr 4th, 2019

The essay compares the two stories, in a manner that shows that both authors have certain similarities. Both authors clearly show the influence of parenting, in inspiring their children into autonomous and independent thought.

The authors emphasize on the role of fathers in the family and especially, in the building of character in their children. The authors also show that men are sexist and stubborn.

“The story A & P” from the Pigeon Feathers and other stories by John Updike

The story involves a young boy of thirteen years of age and his family. They move from their previous home and begin a new life in a town called Firetown.

The young man experiences trouble, in trying to fit into the new environment and the new life. After a fortnight in the new town, David spots interest in a book while in the process of rearranging the books.

The book was H. G. Wells’s “The Outline of History.” He got interested in the manner in which the book portrays the life of Jesus from a secular point of view. The reason as to why the family moved to the farmhouse in Firetown is later shown.

It was his mothers wish that the children grow up in a farmhouse, just as she did when she was growing up. Evidently, his father does not enjoy the environment and often drives off to town.

This reason, amongst other reasons, cased David’s two parents to argue often. One day, when they were arguing about organic farming, David hid in the outhouse to avoid the shouting.

While in there, he experienced a feeling of regret for his existence. After that, he returned to the main house to find them still arguing. He then goes to bed and says a prayer, so that Christ may touch his parents, so that they know that he exists.

One Sunday, his mother recognizes that David is troubled. However, when confronted, he refuses to share his worries concerning morality with his mother.

His father then comes in from church, claiming that the society in that place is intellectually poor.

While David was in the catechetical class, he enquired about the events that take place between death and judgment day.

This question made the other students and the reverend, behave as though they were uncomfortable. David felt as though he had asked a dumb question. As a result of his question, a debate ensued concerning the life after death.

One of the members in the class concluded that heaven is the legacy of good acts done in one’s life. The reverend also confirms to David that there is no consciousness in death.

This sparked off David’s curiosity, and he started to read the bible in search for answers. Despite his mother’s intervention, David refused to believe that there is no God.

His father did not encourage David to think about the events after death. Despite all the discouragement, he still found support from the church and at school.

On his (David) fourteenth birthday, his parents buy him a gun. Sometime later on, David’s grandmother asked him to kill some pigeons.

He derived pleasure from killing the birds to the point that his mother angrily reprimanded him and instructed him to bury the birds. Deep in thought while burying the birds, David began to appreciate the beauty of nature.

At that moment, he realized that God had done well in creating everything and judging from his destructive nature, God would not want to risk losing all his creation by allowing him to live forever.


Upon analyzing the character of David in the book, it becomes evident that he has concerns about morality. These concerns, are due to the fact that David wanted to refuse the history behind how he understood Christianity.

He is scared of what he reads from the book, “The Outline of History”. In the course of his research, David refused to read the entire definition of the soul, because it went ahead to talk about the opinions from the Romans and Greek.

He associates his fear of death to have been caused by everything from the past. He points out that the past is composed of interactions with things and beings that we leave behind once we die.

This is what David thought to be the cause for the fear. David refuses to take note of this association in order to dig deeper into the mystery.

As a result, he finds out that, that would be a place in which there is no need to follow the laws of nature.

This is seems to have been influenced by his father, who thinks that organic farming is old and should be replaced with modern methods.

The author touches on matters concerning parenting. The author appears to relate these influences to gender. In their family, David’s mother does not go to church; however his father goes to church every Sunday.

In the book, we also find that David dismissed his mother’s insight as influenced by her feminine nature. This is a character of David’s father.

Through these two characters (David and his father), Updike shows the way that men are molded into sexists, who hold believe that they are always right.

When David killed the pigeons, he realized that the main reason for man being violent is the fear of death. Strangely, from this part, the author attempts to show that death greatly influences the way we appreciate the world around us.

David has faith in God, because of the beauty of all that is around. The author does not attach a specific religious group to the faith that David has, but he simply associates the faith to the beauty in the creatures around.

“The Kiss” from How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (1991)

The book talks of four daughters who made it a tradition to be together on their father’s birthday celebration. In the ceremony, Mr. Carlos would welcome them and then they would have cake. He would then give them hundreds of dollars in envelopes.

By holding an event at her home, one daughter by the name Sofia broke the tradition. This had been after a period of time, when they had reconciled with each other. Sofia had run away from home, when she chose to get married.

Now she had two children, and the lastborn was a boy named after her father. Her father always treated the grandson better than he did the granddaughter and Sofia did not like that.

In her youth, Sofia was the sister who had a boyfriend after the next. She often went on vacation with them, since her father had strict rules about sleeping over at boyfriends’ homes.

Her father later found the letters from her German boyfriend. He was annoyed and accused Sofia of spoiling his reputation, by sleeping around with men.

In anger and pain, Sofia ran away from home and went to Germany, where she got married and invited the family over to their home in Michigan.

Her mother attended but her father did not. She then took her first born baby to see him on his birthday, and they eventually began talking to each other. However, this party was meant to be their reconciliation.

In the party, Carlos was blind folded and a lady would kiss him. He guessed the names on each turn, but did not even mention Sofia at any one time.

This hurt her and when it was her turn, she made sure that he knew that it was her. After being given a big kiss by her, he removed the blindfold in anger and humiliation and declared that the game was over.


The author in this book shows the issue of parenting in molding the character of the child. Sofia is a mature woman, who grew up in the modern society, which conflicts with the traditions in the Dominican Republic where her parents lived (Laurie, 1998).

Sofia’s character in the book, is depicted as a free spirit, who is rebellious against traditions. She is full of love for her father, since she did all she could to make things right by her father’s wishes.

She was the one who took the first step towards reconciliation, and organized a party where her sisters could come with their husbands (Laurie, 1998).

The manner, in which Sofia chose to leave her father’s house in pursuit of her own beliefs, shows the need to be independent. The autonomy of thoughts and beliefs is further demonstrated by the way she publicly expresses her stand on sexuality, when she kisses her father.

She totally breaks traditions and becomes a successful family woman, despite her father’s insults. The author also demonstrates the character of men as sexist, stubborn and authoritative.

The father refused to see his grandchild on account of the past. He states that he will not set foot in his daughter’s house. He always gave the girls money in envelopes instead of checks.

He also reacts in anger; over a game he suggested being part of. These show how the man can be stubborn. He is sexist because he complains that his reputation was ruined due to his daughter’s activities (Lostracco, 1998).

He refuses to accompany his wife when she went to see Sofia’s firstborn child. He showed favor to his grandson than he did to his granddaughter.


The two authors have clearly displayed the issues concerning families and raising children. They have further displayed that men are sexist, and have a big ego.

The women have been shown as determined but not forceful. They have been shown as largely obedient and persuasive.


The analysis of literary works from different authors, shows a lot about the experiences that they went through in their past.

It is my recommendation that, in the process of understanding social science more clearly, comparison of different authors from the areas under research is done. This serves to give a deeper understanding of the society at that time.


Álvarez, J. (2004). How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. New York: Bloomsburry Pub.

Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Laurie, S. R. (1998). Casebook: A and P. Hampshire: Cengage Learning.

Lostracco, G. J. (1998). Analyzing Short Stories. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Toolan, M. J. (2009). Narrative Progression in the Short Story: A Corpus Stylistic Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub.

Updike, J. (1996). Pigeon feathers, and other stories. New York: Random House Publishing Group.

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