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The Alligators Written by John Updike

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Sarah Pham


Short Story Final Part 1

        The Alligators is written by John Updike. This story was quite interesting to analyze and read since you could relate to it. It’s about a kid in fifth grade who wants to become popular.  It shows how persuasive and adult-like children can be. In reality, this story is about popularity’s effect on children.

        Charlie is just like everyone else. He wants to fit in and be popular. “He was as bad as the others: worse, because what the others did because they felt like it, he did it out of a plan, to make himself more popular.” (50). Charlie doesn’t know that the gang actually thinks that Joan is super cool. “Because of her saying this, shadows, of broad leaves and wild slashed foreign flowers, darkened and complicated the idea they had of her.” (49). They are obviously jealous of her, which cause them to act in a mean way. “He seems to realize that he is a social outcast and wants to be liked again. “In the first and second grade, he had been liked pretty well, but somewhere since then he had been dropped.” (50). He thinks the gang will take him in if he does what they’re doing without being asked to. They don’t quite notice him, but he has high hopes.

        Charlie is still following out with his plan, but starts to think differently about his plan and Joan.  “… he sat one seat ahead of Joan and annoyed her all he could, in spite of a feeling that, both being disliked, they had something to share.” (51). He starts to look at how Joan acts throughout the weeks. “… he once in a while drew a picture titled ‘Joan the Dope’: the profile of a girl with a lean nose and sad mincemouth, the lashes of her lowered eye as black as the pencil could make them and the hair falling, in ridiculous hooks, row after row, down the sea-blue cross-lines clear off the bottom edge of the tablet.” (51). Charlie has an eye for detail, which is the key to the puzzle. As Joan starts to change because of peer pressure from the gang, Charlie’s perspective of girls’ pains comes into view. “Charlie felt thankful for having been born a boy, and having no sharp shocks, like losing your curls or starting to bleed, to make growing painful.” (52). All of the hate caused Joan to change herself into something that she is not.



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