Half a Day and A and P Literary Interpretation

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:English

Document 1

First and foremost, “Half a Day” is a short story that was written by Mahfouz that saw its first publication in 1989 in Arabic. The setting of the story as is the case with most allegorical stories is general in nature. Having been a resident of Egypt, the story can be presumed to have its settings in Cairo. However, assuming this may lead to a wrong conclusion especially due to the allegorical nature of the short story. The setting finds its relevance in allegorical meaning (Mahfouz 61). This is why to the imagination of the boy, it is no good going there as he perceives this as a punishment. For this reason, he has the picture that he was being “thrown” into school.

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This is indicative of the fact that his going to school was not out of his willingness but was forced and undesirable to him. According to Gale (65), the school also has been described in somewhat a violent place with the diction “some huge, high-walled fortress” conveying the metaphorical meaning. In school, despite having some likable elements, the lady usually resorted to some physical punishment and this vindicates the boy’s apprehension of school. Before one can extricate themselves from the challenges, it’s already late. This story is metaphorical of life as life experiences of the boy are narrated in one day from being a young lad to being an old woman and his father is dead by the end of the day.

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This time concept shows how life can be short. Additionally, there is no time to change one’s mind and the question of ever returning to “youthful paradise” not there. This signifies that life is too short and nothing lays ahead of other than exertion, perseverance, and struggle (Bausch 139). This is like in the “Half a Day” story where the boy went to school against his wishes. There was the demand for conformity. In the A&P, the element of social conformity is displayed through the setting of the social environment. The setting of the story is in the Grocery store that is 5 miles away from the beach. Updike depicts a town that behaves like sheep and everything is done together (Updike 55).

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This gives meaning to the manner in which Lengel confronts the girls that were dressed scantily in spite of them being his customers. Additionally, this shows that the business values were held loosely by Lengel than he did to his personal values. The period following the war was emblematic of a life of rebellion by youth against the conservative conformities and authority. This is the reason why when the Lengel forgets his business position and values and reprimands the girls, the girls stare at him, surprise and courage registered in their countenance and they answer that there is absolutely nothing wrong with their dressing codes and they don’t see anything wrong with their dressing. Sammy also becomes a little rebellious by questioning the decision of the Lengel in reprimanding the girls and also quits the job (Updike 71).

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