Women have always been playing catch up with men. Society has always portrayed women in a manner that revolves around them being shallow, materialistic, licentious, and willing to do anything to appeal to the opposite sex. In the stories of “A & P” and “The Widow of Ephesus,” it is no different. In fact the notion is accentuated in both stories. Women are portrayed as pathetic beings with explanatory yet unjustified backgrounds about their incompetence to resist attention or a handsome man.
The female genre is perceived as one wit a shallow demeanor and weakness because of their inability to resist desires and lack the maturity to act sensibly. + Women continuously seek out the attention of men. In “The Widow of Ephesus”, through the character of a widow, women are portrayed as beings who cannot resist a handsome man. Her fidelity “was so famous that women came from far and near just to get a glimpse of her”(paragraph 2), and even after her husband died, she stayed by his side. However, the author’s true feelings about women were revealed when a handsome soldier was brought into the picture.
After bringing food down to the widow in her husband’s tomb for some time, “this woman stopped resisting, and she accepted the young soldier’s love just as she had accepted his food” (paragraph 11). In “A & P”, the young girl’s were first portrayed as people who were somewhat questionable when it came to their innocence, which is the exact opposite depiction as in “The Widow of Ephesus”. They are looked down upon for their lack of clothing and illustrated as creatures that were only visually intriguing.
The guy in the store is obviously an experienced girl-watcher because he said the “whole store was like a pinball machine and I didn’t know which tunnel they’d come out of” (paragraph 12). So, he was unmistakably interested in the fact that they were wearing bating suits. In the end however, Sammy sticks up for the innocence that all girl’s delineate and quits his job at the store after his boss embarrasses the girls by yelling at them for their outfits. He is depicted as heroic for his ways and will respect girls, now that he has seen what it does not to respect them.
The social world’s described in each story present an enlightening background for the behavior of each character. In the “Widow of Ephesus,” the woman is one of faith and loyalty to a man whom she had loved for her entire life. She was so in love with this man that she “accompanied the dead body right into the tomb, and after the coffin was placed in the vault… she began a vigil… weeping and wailing day and night” (paragraph 2). This gives the effect of how shallow women are to the author when, in one short period of time, this woman sleeps with another man because of his looks.
When referring to “A & P”, these three girl’s live by the beach, so wearing a bathing suit is perfectly normal. However, when the girls are dismissed from the store in front of strangers, they are embarrassed and made to feel inferior. A man made a woman feel like she was inferior because of how she was dressed. And, although Sammy was going to be looked down upon, he decided that him quitting his job was the necessary thing to do because when “you begin a gesture it’s fatal not to go through with it” (paragraph 31).
The embarrassment that the widow and the three girl’s felt after they were condemned for their behavior warrants sympathy. The Widow was a woman who spent her entire life with one man and her grieving was well known throughout many different places. She lost the one man that she had ever loved and she couldn’t bear to live with that compassion and sense of security that her husband brought to her. To have such a feeling of security and safety and then lose it, is a heartache that sanctions sympathy and pity.
In “A & P,” the three teenagers were looked down upon for what they are wearing and how they are presenting themselves. They are embarrassed in front of customers whom they have never even met by a man who also a complete stranger because they are displaying themselves in an inappropriate manner. They are made to feel as if they are doing something wrong, in a rude and ignorant way, which results in commiseration by the reader. Women are constantly looked down upon for their actions and outward appearances.
It is obvious that the author of “The Widow of Ephesus” thinks very lowly of women through his portraying of the entire female gender as shallow, trifling people who base things only on what they see. It is also clear that the author of “A & P” is one who thinks somewhat better about women than the other author, but still characterizes them as people who use their looks to get attention and then when they get the wrong attention, girls say that guys are the pigs. It’s all a matter of the battle of the sexes, and in the future, there might quite possibly never be a winner.
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