An Analysis of the Lack of Self Control in a Personally Observed Event, and in the Short Stories A & P by John Updike and The Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway

Topics: Cat In The Rain

It was a windy spring day in Chicago. I stood on the bridge of Michigan Avenue looking down the Chicago river. The river was choppy and crashed against the concrete walls. The water was powerful and swayed in a massive motion under the bridge and away from me cutting threw the city. There were tour boats docked on the side, and people walked down the stone steps towards them. The wind blew on my back, never seeming to cease. Boats were coming and going out of Lake Michigan and I stood in a trance studying the tiny ant people that were in the distance.

Then there was a noise, a rather loud noise, it echoed from underneath the bridge. I had heard some of the other boat horns and was aware of them, but my unconscious mind had set my listening level to a monotone pitch. The noise broke my silenced state of nirvana and sent my head and eyes awake with awareness.

A red speed boat shot out from under the bridge. My eyes were locked on this quick motion. I saw the driver, he was a middle-aged man enchanted by the speed and power of the boat. There was a passenger at his side and his daughter directly behind him. I knew it was his daughter because she was hysterically crying, begging her father to slow down.

The drama was quick and the speed boat continued to skip along the waves. I watched as their heads bounced to the rhythm of the river.

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The little girl in the back still crying and her father still willfully riding his enjoyment to the maximum.

As a child growing up my parents taught me that self-control is key to a balanced life. This self-control lies in everything that you do and must be frequently assessed and revised. To revise your self-control you must be able to communicate honestly with yourself and the outside world. Communication is crucial in the success of the growth and development of your self-control, and how it inflicts on your surroundings.

This middle-aged man in the speed boat was not aware of his surroundings. He was detached and jaded from not only the world but his daughter as well. She sits directly behind him desperately trying to communicate to him the agonizing fright that the speed boat is pounding into her. Her father completely neglecting his self-control creates a truly painstaking event. A lack of self-control tends to pay quite a toll on people close to you, such as family members. I think that the balance of one individual’s self-control can determine the level of positive or negative reinforcement within families or loved ones.

The father in the speed boat had forgotten his self-control and it had inflicted upon the well-being of his daughter. Whether it was his duty to her or a sacrifice of his needs, it was his responsibility for her well-being and it was his self-control that had slipped. John Updike pushes the realms of self-control in his short story A & P. A young man one of thousands across America slaving their summer away in a grocery store, is interrupted from the usual day at work when a group of girls walks in wearing nothing but bathing suits. Updike makes certain connotations leading the reader to believe that the young man has a chemical heat wave running threw his veins when he lays eyes on them. Sammy the young man is aware that they are dressed inappropriately. One of the first descriptive lines that Updike writes is They didnt even have shoes on. This line comes way before the confrontation about straps. Sammy knows what’s going on, he just finds himself unable to communicate his needs honestly to himself. Instead, he forgets about his self-control just as the father on the speed boat did. Like the father, he is overcome by his desire for his needs and forgets about others. He is aware that quitting his job will be a negative impact on his family but doesn’t seem to care. I think that in this situation Sammy lost out. His communication to himself was false, he wanted to reach the girls, and attempted to, but in the wrong way. Updike then leaves the reader not knowing why he quit his job. Just as I had asked myself why was the father going so fast in that boat if his daughter was so blatantly miserable.

Ernest Hemingway also deals with self-control and communication in his short story The Cat In The Rain. Hemingway opens up the story during a dismal rainy day. It is a common fact that people tend to become more grouchy on rainy days. The wife Hemingway introduces seems to be extremely bored. She insists upon having this cat that she sees outside. This cat is not a desperate need but throughout her boredom, she has created quite a desire for it. She like Sammy or the father is simply immediately gratifying themselves, feeding their needs. She pursues the idea of retrieving the cat after a lack of communication between her husband and her. She returns soon after empty-handed. Ungratified she loses her self-control and in a desperate attempt to communicate with her husband she lists what she would like to have as a personal note to him. I want to pull my hair back smooth and make a big knot at the back that I can feel she says I want a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke it. As she continues her list her husband becomes more and more annoyed. George her husband is annoyed at her lack of self control and lack of communication thus creating a negative representation of her husband and wife. The result in the end is George telling her to shut up.

This lack of self control which we have seen in these short stories and in everyday life is hurtful and damaging. There is no explanation for these actions. We can only ask the question why are you doing this? Why are you quitting your job? Or why are you making your daughter cry? Or why do you pester your husband? Where are the answers found, or is the answer just human nature? Do we as humans cause pain to our loved ones or family members at least once in our lives? I would have to believe that from reading these stories and observing the world around that there is a defiant negative force in every family or close relationship. This negative force doesn’t necessarily override the positive but it lies somewhere in the same pool and surfaces now and then causing flaws in the relationship.

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An Analysis of the Lack of Self Control in a Personally Observed Event, and in the Short Stories A & P by John Updike and The Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway. (2022, Aug 16). Retrieved from

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