Judgmental Behavior in A&P, Revelation, and The Minister's Black Veil
Length: 1578 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)
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Judging a person is very common in today's society. People everyday, judge one another, whether it is judging another's appearance, which is the most common, or judging the way one behaves, everyone is guilty of it. However, in most cases one is making judgments about someone without even knowing a person at all. It is wrong to judge someone because one can really hurt another's feelings, or it may backfire on them, and they may be the one to end up getting hurt. The worst part about judging someone is the fact that most people's judgments are wrong, considering most people judge in a negative manor. In the stories "A&P", "Revelation", and "The Ministers Black Veil", all three of the main characters have come face to face with judgmental behaviors. In the stories "A&P" and "Revelation", both of the main characters are doing the judging, where as in the story "The Ministers Black Veil", Hooper is trying to stop people from being so judgmental.
John Updike, the author of the short story "A&P", portrays how a young supermarket clerk, Sammy, judges three girls who come into the store from off the beach. Sammy makes numerous pre judgments about these three girls. In the beginning of the story when the girls first walk in, he notices their appearances. They immediately catch his eye because they are not in what is considered appropriate dress. They are wearing bathing tops- that have their straps pulled down, along with being bare foot. Sammy refers to one of the girls in the bathing suits as "the fat one with the tan" (Updike 553). However, he is attracted to one of the other girls who have "long white prima-Donna legs" (Updike 553). This particular girl, he nicknames "Queenie" because he feels she is the leader of the group. These girls are nothing but sex symbols in Sammy's eyes. He mentioned Queenie's breasts more than once and he described them as "the two smoothest scoops of vanilla" (Updike 553).
Sammy is a very judgmental character because he always points out the negative features that other people have, insisting that he is better than they are. In the end of the story, Sammy's manager Lengel yells at the girls for what they are wearing, however Sammy sticks up for them because he sees that they are embarrassed and because he hopes that Queenie might like him for this. This results in Sammy quitting his job. With all of that said, Sammy has a very similar personality to Mrs. Turpin who is the main character is Flannery O'Connor's short story, "Revelation".
"Revelation" portrays the act of being judgmental in an obvious way. Mrs. Turpin, who is the main character in the story, is far more judgmental than Sammy is. Flannery O'Connor shows the judgment in "Revelation" right from the beginning. This story takes place in a doctor's office. Mrs. Turpin is there because her husband Claud, was kicked in the leg by a cow, resulting in an ulcer. The first judgment Mrs. Turpin makes is about a young girl sitting in the chair in the waiting room. "There was a vacant chair and a place on the soda occupied by a blonde child in a dirty blue romper" (O'Connor 376). Right from the start Mrs. Turpin has a negative thing to say about a young, innocent girl, just sitting, minding her own business. Mrs. Turpin makes judgments about many of the other women in the waiting room as well. Mrs. Turpin sees herself as a woman who goes to church every Sunday to worship God, as an upper class woman, far from white trash. Because of the way she views herself, she finds it hard to respect any one who is lower than she is. The only woman that Mrs. Turpin gives the time of day to is the one woman who stylish. Mrs. Turpin and this woman chitchat while the stylish woman's daughter, who Mrs. Turpin does not like because she is fat and has bad skin, gets mad. The whole time that Mrs. Turpin is at the doctor's office, she makes snide remarks about the other people. However, the one person who she creates the biggest conflict with is the young girl. The young girl's mother says,
I think the worst thing in the world is an ungrateful person. To have everything and not appreciate it. I know a girl who has parents who would give her anything, a little brother who loves her dearly, who is getting a good education, who wears the best clothes, can never say a kind word to anyone, who never smiles, who just criticizes and complains all day long. (O'Connor 383)
Mrs. Turpin goes on and tells everyone in the room how grateful she is that she is not like that. She starts to thank Jesus for making her the way that she is. As she was saying all of this, the girl threw a book directly at Mrs. Turpin's face, and then quickly got up and then "the girls fingers sank like clamps into the soft flesh of her neck" (O'Connor 384). When the doctors get this young girl off Mrs. Turpin, the girl screams aloud "go back to hell where you came from you old wart hog". (O'Connor 385). This statement right here is what creates Mrs. Turpin to have a revelation. At home, Mrs. Turpin has a few black people working for her. She claims to be more-less nice to them, however not giving them the respect that they deserve. When her workers see her face, they ask her what happened. They were very supportive of Mrs. Turpin, however because they were black, Mrs. Turpin did not what to hear it. Mrs. Turpin could not fathom why that girl would say something so hurtful to her. While she was standing outside the pig's pen, she was trying to understand what went wrong. Mrs. Turpin soon comes to realize that she is way to judgmental of people and that she needs to change her ways of viewing and respecting people. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote an excellent short story called "The Ministers Black Veil" which portrays just how judgmental people can be. Mrs. Turpin could have really learned from Mr. Hooper in this story.
In the story "The Ministers Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mr. Hooper one day decides that he is going to wear a black veil to cover his face. Even though Hooper does not give, any explanation as to why he would do such a thing, the people in the town come up with many of their own assumptions. Some of the people in town think is it because he is hiding something, or that he is some type of demon, or because he was feeling sorrow. This veil created a quarrel in the community. The only thing talked about was this veil. Some of the towns' people were actually starting to be afraid of Hooper because of this. Hooper's wife had no understanding of why he was wearing the veil either. However, when she went to talk to him, to get an explanation, he would not give her one. This resulted in her walking away from the marriage and leaving him. Nonetheless, this did not change Hooper's mind on wearing this veil. I think that Hooper wears this veil to prove to the town how judgmental they all are. Not one person knew the honest answer about why he was wearing this veil, yet they all spread rumors and lies. This veil symbolizes just how people are so caught up in things out of the norm. It also symbolizes how people are so wrapped up in one another life that they forget about their own. Hooper is trying to make the point that people would not judge him if his face was covered. There was no reason for Hooper to wear the veil other than to prove to the people in his town that they need to be less concern with one another and not judge someone by what is on their face, but what is in their hearts.
All three of these characters had to face judgmental behaviors. Sammy, judging the three girls, based solely on their appearances, Mrs. Turpin, who judged just about everyone who she thought she was better than, and Mr. Hooper, the hero of them all, who tried to stop people from being so judgmental. All three of these characters faced conflict throughout the stories due to this judgmental behavior. Sammy had lost his job because he was so concerned about the girls; Mrs. Turpin had her own form of a revelation, and Hooper lost his wife and possibly the respect of all of the people in his town because of his decision to wear the veil. Mrs. Turpin had the biggest affect on me, just the way that she was able to make such a life changing turn around. She went from hating everyone who seemed like white trash, or was not as pretty, or was black, for absolutely no reason, to visioning "whole companies of white trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs." (O'Connor 390) I just think that it is so special when a person can change for the better.
John Updike, "A&P" 1961
Flannery O'Connor, "Revelation" 1964
Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Ministers Black Veil" 1836