Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 5 | Words: 1310
Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Orientation, written by Daniel Orozco, is a unique short story which illustrates the lives of several employees, their work settings, characters, and personal lives. The book is a satire about businesses and the lives of the workers today. On the other hand, John Updike is one of America’s contemporary authors who has written novels, short stories, essays, poems, art criticism and drama. In his short fiction story A&P, Updike focuses on the feeling of loneliness and isolation that lead an individual to seek some form of higher truth and ultimate meaning to life. The story reveals a teenage boy’s sudden awareness of the split between his inner feelings and societal values. This essay identifies comparisons and some contrasts between short story Orientation and a short fiction story A&P.

Orientationis written through the unfolding and revealing of the secret lives and behavioral obligations of office’s temporary workers that are the temps and non-subordinate employees. The first-day at work tour of a new employee involved the reveal of the narrator’s colleagues’ most private lifestyles and desires; for example, Amanda Pierce had a husband who was a lawyer. He subjected her to an array of humiliating and painful sex games to which she reluctantly submitted.Each morning, she came to work tired and badly bruised, suffering from the injuries on her breasts or the bruises on her stomach, or the easy to trace burns on the back of her thighs. These were the dramas of life influenced by day-to-day living.

A&P is narrated by Sammy who was struggling with morality, authority and freedom. Sammy was a nineteen-year-old boy who was a cashier at a local A&P grocery in conservative New England town. During the summer, tourist season, when three adolescent girls entered the store wearing only their bathing suits, Sammy was excited. He described the appearance and actions of the girls with utmost detail, observing that something about their behavior suggested a remote, upper-class lifestyle that contrasts with his own. As the girls prepared to make their purchase, the store manager Lengel rebuked them for what he perceived as their uncouth appearance. Hoping the girls would notice his creepy stare, Sammy abruptly quit his job in protest. Realizing that he might later regret his impulsive action, Sammy subsequently followed through with his decision to quit, and walked off the job. By the time he reached the parking lot, the girls had already left and disappeared. The story ends as he ponders how hard life would be thereafter without a job.

In both instances, that is, in the Orientation and A&P short stories, the economy was still struggling and standards of living were high. In Orientation this situation is shown by the available employees who had no clear way to control their destinies at work; for example, the new employee was allowed to ask questions, but asking too many of them would make him go. They also witnessed mass retrenchment of workers. One temporary worker called from the desperately unemployed, then moved to a job, which involved aiding in plan the fall of an entire department. Her bureau thereafter rewarded her with the promise of permanent temporary employment.

In A&P, Sammy and Eagleton divided up the various people they came into contact with into socioeconomic classes. Eagleton called the citizens of the middle class “narrow, harsh, unintelligent, and unattractive spirit and culture” (Eagleton 2245). Sammy, on the other hand, was a working-class young man. By contrast, Queenie, the name he gave to the leader of the bathing-suit trio, was a rich girl who, after a hard day partying at the beach and relaxing by the pool, came into the store to buy cocktail snacks for her mom. Lengel, the manager, who undoubtedly earned more than Sammy and had more responsibility, struggled to get by and was intimidated by the girls. Sammy classified the rest of the people in the store as “sheep” because of their specific manner to dress, act, talk and think alike. He quit his job for more evident reasons than pleasing a couple of rich girls. Nathan Hatcher stated, “In reality, Sammy quit his job not on a matter of ideals, but rather as a means of showing off and trying to impress the girls, specially Queenie”. Sammy admired and envied the girls for their social standing and that is what he was after.

In Orientation, the introductory set up was a typical office atmosphere where the narrator stated that those were the offices and those were the cubicles. The narrator kept a professional air about him, which made the information that he was portraying particularly important. The narrator, in his introduction to the new employee, made no sexual comments about Pierce’s situation by not stating what the husband did to her every day. The narrator also spoke frankly of what the listener could and could not do; for example, there were no personal phone calls allowed. The narrator went on to tell the consequences of doing something that was prohibited; if he made an emergency phone call without asking, he would be let go. This was a straightforward method of speaking, which created a professional feeling.

In A&P, Sammy loved his job as a check-out clerk at the A&P stores. The job was arranged for him by his parents who were friends with Lengel, his boss. But after mingling with the rich, his perception on his job changed. His lack of care for his profession and a search for a sense of personal advancement and self fulfillment made him quit his job. Nathan Hatcher, a fellow worker who fancied his position at the store, was aggravated by Sammy’ quitting. He stated, “Had he taken the time to think over his actions before he carried them out, he would have seen how foolish he was being and would not have gone through with them” (Updike, 38).

In both stories, both men and women were lusty. In Orientation, the narrator, while familiarizing the new employee, talked about John LaFountaine who often used women’s wash rooms for mild fulfillment. Russell Nash was also in love with Amanda Pierce, a married woman who was also in love with Albert Bosch. In A&P the lusty and excited Sammy quit his job to show the girls in bathing suits that he respected their right to dress the way they liked. This was aspired by his lust for the girls. The two short stories were set on modern scenarios with diverse ethnic background and religious affiliation. This is so in Orientation, as they believe in Christmas; Portluck, where Collin Harvey felt sorry for Anika Bloom and mingled with her, offering her a drink. The same is true with A&P.

In addition, the theme of power is shared between the two short stories. In Orientation, the new employee was given power to use office equipment such as the photocopier. On the other hand, in A&P, girl power of rebellion can be analyzed as the three girls paraded themselves in bathing suits which were against the norm of the conservative population.

In contrast, Orientation talked about the introduction and the beginning of a new life of a new employee to the organization; while on the other hand, A&P revealed the life of an employee who found meaning to his life by quitting the job. He stated that his job was so dull at times that he could hear songs and words to the sounds of the cash register.

In conclusion, analyses of the two short stories revealed that they were based on the theme of Society and Class, where individuals garnered for social and economic prowess through employment. Theme of Gender also arises, when both men and women have equal opportunities for socioeconomic improvement. Power theme was also envisaged as power to warn new employees on subsequent dangers of over mingling with Temps, and power to fight for freedoms were seen in the short stories the Orientation and A&P respectively.

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