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The Conductorette by Maya Angelou and Ashputtel by Peter Straub

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In the stories The Conductorette by Maya Angelou and Ashputtel by Peter Straub, the authors share the same theme of overcoming adversity in life. While both stories vary in how much adversity each main character faces in their own life, it still follows the same theme. This theme of overcoming adversity is developed through different and shared means of development. Such as using Man VS. Society conflicts, using the outcast archetype, and genre to develop themes.

In both stories, The Conductorette and Ashputtel both follow a man vs society conflict scheme. In a man vs society conflict, the protagonist has a strong disbelief in their surrounding society and decides to act on society. The first example we see is in The Conductorette. In which we see the main character, Maya Angelou, decide to act against her society by applying to a job where she would most likely not be accepted. Though in the end, after a long struggle we see her win her conflict by being accepted at the rail car company. 

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Similarly, we see the same conflict in Ashputtel. The main character, Ashputtel, decides to act against society. She does this by going to the ball in secret, against her step-mothers commands. In the end, she wins by leaving with the prince and leaving the society she had a conflict with. Both stories follow this conflict similarly, by having the main character face against their society and win the conflict. This allows for the development of the theme by showing what adversity they faced against in life and how they overcame this challenge.

Next, we see the authors use archetypes to develop the theme of both stories. Specifically, both authors use an outcast archetype. The outcast archetype usually follows a pattern of a character that is rejected by a group or society for any reason. In both texts we see the main character being abandoned by a group. Whether it is Maya Angelou being outcast for her skin and race or Ashputtel being outcast by her family for who her mother was. An example from the conductorette, “they don’t accept colored people on the streetcars.”(Angelou,27).In this quote, we see that Maya Angelou is warned of her of the prejudice she faced due to her entire race being subjected to become outcasts. 

Another example of this archetype being used comes from Ashputtel, “Then they took away her fine clothes, and gave her a grey frock to put on, and laughed at her and turned her to the Kitchen”(Straub, 1). From this excerpt, we see that Ashputtel is stripped of her fine clothes, degraded to a frock, and mocked as she is forced to the kitchen. Both characters follow this archetype for most of the story and break it in the latter half of the texts. This is a great example of how authors show development throughout the text. We see the main character subjected to a lower rank than a group, only for them to break free and overcome adversity brought on by the archetype.

The main difference between the authors' strategies. Is how they use their genre to aid in developing the theme. While The Conductorette falls into a genre of nonfiction, the author uses the experiences that she went through to develop the theme. This allows for more credibility when it comes to how the theme is used. Ashputtel is part of the fiction genre. This genre may be inspired by a true story, but it is not real. This means that the author of Ashputtel had greater creative freedom to develop their theme. Both authors use their genre to the fullest when it comes to theme. Maya Angelou uses her experiences in life to bring her story together around a theme. While Peter Straub used the fiction genre to produce a story revolving around a theme and allowing for the story to be more creative with how the theme is built.

In the stories The Conductorette by Maya Angelou and Ashputtel by Peter Straub, the authors share the same theme of overcoming adversity in life. This theme of overcoming adversity is developed through different and shared means of development. In both stories, The Conductorette and Ashputtel both follow a man vs society conflict scheme. Both follow the same outcast archetype but the characters beat the archetype in the end. While the stories share the archetype and mna vs society conflict, they differ when the genre is used to develop themes. No matter how the stories differ in development, they share the same theme, overcoming adversity. 

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