The way men perceive women is not the way women would want to be perceived. Men do not take their time to think what the woman want or what she would be interested in. It does not matter even when the man is romantically interested in that woman. The perception remains the same, misinterpretation of the woman's mind and way of thinking and a generalized assumption of what the woman wants, without taking an interest in knowing what her preference would be.
The society will treat the woman in the way they assume she wants to be treated. In addition to this the woman is viewed in the light that is only secondary to the man. These perceptions and misinterpretation of the woman's need and how she is viewed in the male dominated society is portrayed in the two stories analyzed in this essay, AP&P by John Upike and Araby by James Joyce.
Male characters project their fantasies or opinions when they are looking at the female characters. This is seen in the way the narrator in Araby is watching Mangan's sister and in Sammie in the story AP&P while he is watching the three girls who have visited the store. In Araby', the narration is by an unknown young man is describing the daily happenings of the neighborhood of North Richmond Street he lives in. He narrates of how he spends his days playing with his friends until dusk. He then narrates of how he and his friends would spend time staring at Mangan's sister. Mangan's sister would on go to get his brother from the back allays where they played.
The friends would all wait for these moments, each of them silently hoping that she would stay with them for a moment. This silent hope shows that the boys were attracted to the girl. They want to hang around her brother Mangan whenever she is around. The boys do not want to know if she would be interested in the hanging around but just assume or rather ignore whatever her wish would be in this matter.
This same scenario is replayed in the AP&P; the only difference being the location and the characters. Sammie, the narrator in AP&P is joined by his colleagues in staring at the three girls who have walked into the store. AP&P is a story that is based from a grocery store and as narrated by Sammy. Like the narrator in Araby, Sammy is attracted to one of the girls, whom he likes most and calls her 'queen' and like in 'Araby', Sammy and his colleagues do not consider how the girl's feel about the staring they receive.
Men will assume that women are interested in gifts or will want them to sacrifice something on their behalf. This is what the narrator in Araby assumes when he tells Mangan's sister that he will bring her a present when he goes to the bazaar. The boy does not bother to ask what the girl would want or if she would be at all interested. The men end up losing as a result. This narrator loses concentration in the classroom. In AP&P, Sammy assumes that the girl would be interested in his heroic act of standing up to the store manager as he resigns in protest of the store manager's embarrassment of the girls. He loses his job and realizes that the girls have already gone. "I look around for my girls, but they're gone, of course. [...].
There is a perception by the society that sees a woman only like a sex object, an object only to be admired and one who should not be regarded highly. The perception can be in the man admitting the woman, or the woman being seen as a source of evil. This perception is seen in both stories. This perception is strongly seen in both stories as though the two narrators are romantically attracted to the girls in question, none of them have referred to them by name. In 'Araby' the girl is only referred to as Mangan's sister, while Sammy gives the name Queen to the girl he is attracted to yet they keep fantasizing about the girls as they refer.
They male characters fantasize about the girls' nakedness. This is shown in the story AP&P in the sentence, "...and another thing in the cool of the A&P, under the florescent lights, against all those stacked packages, with her feet paddling along naked over our checker-board green and cream rubber-tile floor" (453). The same is shown in the worlds, "At night in my bedroom and by day in the classroom her image came between me and the page I strove to read" (18). The source of evil perception is seen when the store manager embarrasses the girls and sends them away from the store.
In the two stories the woman is viewed in a secondary role. The stories only provide information on the male characters and the female characters are only provided in the view of the males. In "A&P" the story begins with a description of the girls with the bikinis. The girls are not necessarily in the background like the "sheep", but they are only portrayed as an interest by the narrator. In "Araby", Mangan's sister plays a secondary role as she is only shown in one scene. It is therefore difficult to know the real character of the girls as they have only been shown in the eyes of male who have romantic interests in them.
It is this lack of consideration of the girl's feelings that may have cost both Sammy in AP&P and the narrator in Araby the girls that they admired. The narrator goes to the bazaar to buy a present for Mangan's sister. He however does not buy anything and he walks away disillusioned and with hopelessness. "I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out" (20), he says. AP&P story ends with a disillusioned Sammy, "I look around for my girls, but they're gone, of course. [...]. Looking back in the big windows, over the bags of peat moss and aluminum lawn furniture stacked on the pavement, I could see Lengel in my place in the slot, checking the sheep through" (457).
Overall, the narrations in both stories are subjective and idealize women. Men are always trying to figure out why they don't get women, or don't know what women want. But do they actually go out their way and try to understand them? In some cases, yes, but some will not as we have seen in the main characters, Sammie in "A&P" and the narrator in "Araby". These men present the women according to how they view them. Had they inquired of their girls needs there is a possibility that the story would have ended differently.