Boys and Girls depicts how men and women were treated unequally in the 20th century. The main character is a girl who describes her childhood in a strict traditional family. A&P introduces a short story of a 19-year-old man working at the store and his encounter of conflict between modern girls and the shop’s manager, Lengel. The literary texts by Updike and Munro display the disparity among the perceptions and attitudes of people of different ages in the same situations. The authors skillfully use foreshadowing to prepare the readers for upcoming changes in characters as they grow. The main differences between young people and adults are that the latter ones tend to follow traditional social norms while their children are more open-minded and free-willed.
The works illustrate the difference between two generations: traditional and baby boomers. Conventional grown-ups feel more obliged to observe accepted practices and rules. As Great Depression survivors, they were instrumental in forming the United States into a monetary and military force (Venter 499). This gathering is characterized by Patriotism, collaboration, and drive. Traditional adults will, in general, submit to rules and regard authority (Venter 499).
Children of America, who were born after the war, saw expanding social and financial balance and grew up as the nation was part by varying perspectives on governmental issues, war, and social equity. The Boomers took an interest in the absolute most noteworthy social changes in the nation’s set of experiences, during the 1960s and 1970s, with the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement (Venter 501).
In Boys and Girls, the narrator’s parents are traditional people who obey old societal rules where men are superior to women, and each of the genders has to act and work in the accepted manner. She mentions her grandmother follows these notions even stricter than her parents, showing that the older the person, the more he or she is likely to act in accordance with the traditional values and norms (Munro 157). Thus, all of the adults in the story behave according to the rules which were set a long time ago, whereas the next generation have difficulty adjusting to these norms.
A similar trend can be seen in the A&P, where Lengel is an example of a traditional adult who cannot tolerate the girls’ opening their body parts in a public place. Sammy, who is younger and unmarried, is more open to changes in society and does not see anything wrong with the girls’ appearance. The three girls are also quite open-minded and more free-willed in comparison to Lengel. The manager conflicts with the young ladies about their inappropriate clothing, humiliating them and rankling Sammy (Updike 167). As a result, the readers can see how the different perceptions between people of different ages bring confrontations between generations.
Furthermore, children tend to fulfill their parents’ expectations, but as they grow up, this trend gradually decreases. Whether it is A&P where Sammy works at the store where the owner is acquainted with his parents or the main character from Boys and Girls who used to listen to her mother and grandmother on how to behave as an exemplary lady, they become more independent throughout the story.
Lengel attempts to convince Sammy to stay at work, giving an argument that later he will lament the choice later and that his hot-tempered choice will disappoint Sammy’s parents (Updike 167). Sammy decides to quit the job at A&P even though his parents would apparently disapprove of his decision (Updike 167). Nonetheless, he feels he needs to rebel against the common rules set by adults, and he can choose for himself what to do.
Similarly, the girl from Boys and Girls tries to learn how to do the housework as her parents demand her to act according to the accustomed expectations from women. Munro uses foreshadowing to warn the readers about the heroine’s development as it is clear from the start of the text that she was not glad about the restrictions she faces as a girl. For instance, the narrator slams the door loudly even though her grandmother scolds her about that (Munro 157).
Despite her family’s focus on her brother, she makes her effort to be an obedient child by cleaning the house and helping at the farm while her brother has a peaceful and careless life (Munro 155). Later, however, she understands how unfair her parents are to her and loses the need to conform to her parents’ expectations.
It seems that both writings demonstrate older people as limited in their minds. They cannot view events in an unbiased open way while the younger generation is more receptive to changes and others’ ideas. By the end of A&P, Sammy describes Lengel as “his face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he’d just had an injection of iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.” (Updike 167). At that point, Sammy thinks back through the window of the store at Lengel having his spot behind the register (Updike 167). Through the window, Lengel shows up as cold and hard as metal, as unbendable genuinely as he was in his activities (Updike 167). Sammy associates the harshness of Lengel’s appearance with the hardness that anticipates him in his future dealings with the world.
In the second writing, when Laird was younger, he was a playful kid who had no worries in life. Later, however, he became so stiff and cruel that he even killed their beloved old horse when she ran away (Munro 162). He slowly became cold-blooded and arrogant as he grew older. The author applies foreshadowing when she describes how old and ‘useless’ the horse named Flora became (Munro 158). Additionally, the father’s behavior and the traits of culturally accepted men give a hint on how Laird’s behavior will change in the story. Also, the character’s name is the reference to a lord, meaning the boy is likely to have insensitive and domineering behavior.
In conclusion, the writings by Munro and Updike uncover the difference in the attitude of older and younger generations on the same occurrences and events. The main distinction is that the first group is restricted on the ideas and cannot accept the opinion which does not coincide with theirs. Furthermore, they act in accordance with traditional rules set by society. At the same time, the younger people try to reach freedom and are more receptive to changes than adults. The writers use foreshadowing to demonstrate the growth of the characters and their possible further decisions towards the end of the story.
Venter, Elza. “Bridging the Communication Gap between Generation Y and the Baby Boomer Generation.” International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, vol. 22, no. 4, 2017, pp. 497–507. Web.