Comparison Of The Sacrifices Characters Make In Ambrose Bearce's "An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge" And John Updike's "A & P".

1340 words - 5 pages

Often times in literature for the protagonist to make progress a sacrifice has to be made. This sacrifice can spark progress in the movement of the story or growth in the character themselves. The true development in the story comes not in the sacrifice but in the motives behind the characters actions. After we know the motivation of the characters within the story we can begin to analyze what they represent. In both "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "A & P" the protagonist sacrifices something that has a profound impact on his life, but the results of their actions are vastly different.John Updike develops Sammy, from "A & P" in such a way that the reader senses that his frustration will eventually consume his reason, and that all he is missing is the spark to set off his anger. The only thing we know for sure about Sammy's beliefs is that he hates the atmosphere of A & P and as a result despises his job. The rest of his beliefs, as they pertain to the story, are left to deduction. It is ironic that Sammy, who describes the customers in the store as being sheep, ultimately makes a sacrifice to defend the esteem of several young girls shopping in the market. Upon seeing the chastising of the attractive girls by the manager Sammy immediately protest but is not engaged by the manager and so he quits his post. Incase Sammy hadn't realized it the manager, who is a friend of the family, informs him that life will be hard for him if he quits. It is here that we learn that Sammy is a man of principle and he follows through with his action regardless of its consequences. Lengel, though, was right; because Sammy believes so strongly in his principles his life will be difficult. After making his first significant sacrifice the world will never again look the same to Sammy. Perhaps it is more important to realize that Sammy will never again look at himself the same way, now he has proven that he can cease the moment. The beliefs and frustrations in his mind became more than thoughts, instead they were finally translated into actions.Farmer Peyton Farquhar from Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" similarly makes a sacrifice but his beliefs and intended outcome are clear. Peyton is from a high social pedigree having come from a well to do southern family. Being that he was a slave owner he naturally was a politician as well and was devoted to the Southern cause. For reasons unknown to the reader he cannot enlist as a solder in the war but desperately wants to fight for the Confederate secession. Beirce describes him as longing for "the larger life of the soldier". It is important for the reader to understand that Peyton desperately wants to fight for the Confederacy because the glory of the South is his sole motivation to take the action he does. Ultimately Peyton is caught trying to burn down a bridge the Union is using to advance into the south and is sentenced to be die by hanging. Just as he the plank of wood that...

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