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The Themes of Hope and Amazement

            The two short stories “A&P” and “Carnal Knowledge” are both mainly about male sexual attraction towards women. In both stories there is a certain woman that catches the eye of the male characters. “Carnal Knowledge” was the longer of the two and it was a bit more in depth, but in both the plot and outcome is basically the same. The men in the stories don’t end up with the girl but the two main emotions that they feel are the same. Their emotions illustrate the feeling of optimism towards having a better life. These two emotions are hope and amazement.
             My favorite of the two stories is “Carnal Knowledge”. It had a more in depth plot than “A&P”. I thought that it was much more interesting. The tone of this story is hope and also amazement. When the story begins the man has called in sick to work for his birthday. He is going to go and lie on the beach by himself and read a book. While he is lying there he falls asleep and then wakes up to a dog that has just pissed on him. This is when he meets Alena Jorgenson. This is where the tone of amazement comes into the story. He is amazed at her beauty. One thing that I like in both stories is how the male characters describe the features of the female characters. He describes Alena as “Bare-legged, fluid, as tall and uncompromising as her Nordic ancestors, and dressed in a Gore-Tex bikini and a hooded sweatshirt unzipped to the waist, she blew me away, in any event.” The tone of amazement in this story does not end here. He is not only amazed at her beauty but throughout most of the story he is amazed at what kind of person that she is. She is and extreme animal rights activist, a vegetarian, and is very compassionate about what she does. He is so amazed by her that he changes his entire way of life just to be with her. He becomes a vegetarian and stops wearing any kind of animal skin clothing, .