In some stories, the choices are more obvious than others. Updike’s “A & P” focuses entirely on the events leading up to Sammy’s life-changing decision. Although he does say, “it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with it” (Updike 18), his original decision was based on his own personal worldview, in his appreciation of beauty. Although Sammy only makes a single choice in this short story, it is the choice that feels right to him. His manager even tries to persuade him to take another path, but Sammy refuses. In fact, in this case, to recant his decision would be to allow someone else to choose his fate. Although he knows his choices will make life hard, he deliberately chooses not the path that will make things hard, but the path that will ensure he does not turn into the story’s final image: Lengel, “His face…dark gray and his back stiff, as if he'd just had an injection of iron” (Updike 19). Sammy is choosing his own freedom, along with all its attendant difficulties.
Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” paints a picture of a thirty-five year old woman who might seem somewhat trapped in her own life. However, the story shows that Elisa is still a strong woman who can make choices for herself. Although she says of the life of a tinker in a wooden caravan, “It must be very nice. I wish women could do such things” (Steinbeck 258), she knows that she can do anything the visitor can do. Further, she has the power of her magic “planters’ hands”. ...Show more