At first read, I thought this story was about the young cashier Sammy and his job at a small beach-town grocery store, or even how Sammy is smitten with some bikini-clad girls who come in the store. But reading deeper into John Updike's "A&P" and getting to the meat of the story, it is obvious it is about so much more. This is clearly a story about standing up to what you believe is wrong, and doing what is right, even if there are implications for your actions. As I was reading this story, I was taken in by the detailed descriptions Updike used when referring to the store and the people inside. It seemed to me Updike made a point of describing the store and people so the reader could actually picture the local grocery store and the stuffy customers it caters to. “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle” (2) as Updike referred to them, are the people in the small town who adhere to every expectation put on them by society. …show more content…
That's when Sammy decides to make a stand; He knows there will be issues with his parents due to him losing his job, but he doesn't care. Sammy suddenly gets a strong sense of what is right and wrong and he decides to follow it, no matter the consequences. At the end, when Sammy unties his apron and walks out of the A&P, I could actually feel the tension in the air being released. "I pull the bow on the back of my apron and start shrugging it off my shoulders" (6). It's like Sammy is suddenly freed of the manager telling him what is right and wrong. Sammy walks out of the A&P with his head held high because he knows he is doing what was right and nobody can tell him otherwise. He stands up against the manager looking down on the girls simply because they weren’t dressed in what the grocery chain deemed decent. It is apparent this story is about society putting expectations on its members every
Updike illustrates this by saying, “The store's pretty empty, it being Thursday afternoon, so there was nothing much to do except lean on the register and wait for the girls to show up again” (2). As the story goes on, Sammy becomes more intrigued in the girls and awaits them to come his way. His need to imagine “the whole store...like a pinball machine and I didn’t know which tunnel they’d come out of” (2) reinforces the idea that Sammy was captivated by the girls and wished them to come his way. In the denouement of A&P, the manager tells them to cover up and Sammy quits his job, showing further how irony plays a central motif of the
John Updike's short story “A&P” explores teenage rebellion and coming-of-age, through multiple stylistic elements such as symbolism, metaphor, and irony; Updike can portray his theme of the consequences of making decisions based on impulse and youthful idealism specifically through the character Sammy. The “A&P'' grocery shop is a particularly effective symbol in this scenario. The narrator, Sammy, who works at the shop, has both a physical and symbolic role in the story. In addition to Sammy's workplace, the store represents society's expectations of conformity. Other customers are described as “sheep” who came in wiping their hands on their skirts as though the shelves had been dusting themselves since the last time they were in.
Updike also uses symbols to further the idea of individualism. For instance, Sammy applauds the girls in ”nothing but bathing suits”, which represent self-expression and a clear disregard for the small-town social norms. The girls themselves even personify individuality in Sammy’s mind with the way they “[walk] against the usual traffic”, both literally and figuratively. When Sammy quits his job, he sheds his uniform, a symbol of corporate conformity. The apron has “‘Sammy’ stitched in red on the pocket”, but this tiny bit of personalization is nowhere near enough for Sammy, because at the end of the day, it all belongs to the establishment, even “the bow tie is theirs”.
As such, "A&P" and "Sonny's Blues" serve as powerful literary examples that dive into the intricacies of human identity and the ways in which individuals strive to break free from societal constraints to assert their individuality. In John Updike's "A&P," the main character, Sammy, impulsively quits his job at a grocery store after defending three girls in bathing suits who are reprimanded for their attire. However, as Sammy searches for the girls outside the store, he realizes the potential consequences of his impulsive action. The grocery store represents a commodified society where people's desires are determined by their purchasing ability.
He felt sympathetic towards her after getting embarrassed by Lengel, and he went after her, despite wanting her for her body. Although in the end, when Sammy fails his goal, he is changed by the events that happened to him, and he is hopeful for the
John Updike's short story "A&P" is about a 19-year-old boy “Sammy” who is going through changes in his life, and has to make crucial decisions that are going to affect his job and his future in the long run. The story is set in an A&P grocery store, in a town north of Boston, and begins with Sammy’s description of the three girls that enter the store. Sammy decides to quit his job in order to impress the girl “Queenie.” Unfortunately, his gentlemanly act goes unnoticed by Queenie and her friends, and he has no choice but to face the consequences of his action. The author of the story clarifies that Sammy’s immaturity comes from his judgmental attitude, sexist beliefs, and disrespectful attitude.
Their decisions had distinct consequences. Therefore, to penalize him for having indecent thoughts is unfair because he was merely being human. While Sammy does not act on his perverted thoughts of the girls, he is able to muster the courage to face an authoratative figure and this is key to his escape from the life of a
While quitting his job is not the most practical course of action, Sammy forcefully acts upon Lengel’s injustice in hopes Queenie will see his heroism. His attack on Lengel’s paternalism and embarrassment is to no avail for this hope, however; as Sammy follows outside, he is met by vast openness. Such a defiant act marks the descent from a small A&P to the expansive world, and discovers a new talent for the young adolescent; regardless of motivation, Sammy is willing to fight against wrongdoing - and rebel against established
3 The story of “A&P” by John Updike adopts the uses of figurative language to embellish the critical moments of transitions of people’s lives, particularly in the life of Sammy. Updike utilizes crafts of plot, character, setting, point of view, theme, and symbol to constitute the story, and to project the idea of "life passages. " Also, Sammy undergoes a series of events that enables him to transition as a person in his life. 3
Point of View of John Updike’s “A&P” In the short story A&P written by John Updike is written in the 1st person naïve point of view. A&P is considered 1st person naïve because the narrator is too young to be trusted. He also is telling us the story as he feels to be the truth. The main character of this story is Sammy and the author Updike chooses 1st person to Naïve because he wants to show the readers what Sammy is thinking from his point of view aka his emotions and reactions to certain situations.
Discuss one of the following regarding John Updike's "A&P": Characterization, Setting, Theme. Sammy is the narrator of this story. He is an opinionated teenager who describes people shopping at the store as “sheep”. He believes everyone acts the same.
Whereas the right decisions channel someone’s life into the right ways, wrong decisions are bound to misdirect . Updike’s short story “A&P” concentrates on the choices that the young people make including the criteria that they use in making their decisions through four major characters, Sammy, and the three young women. Updike views choices as products of circumstances following how Sammy’s decisions leads him to failure as he focuses more on the girls and less on the important things in life. Elaborately, Sammy’s decision to resign was influenced by the situation that came into place at his workplace.
In the short story, “A&P”, by John Updike, the central idea is that you are always being judged even when you think you aren’t. The author’s use of characterization helps reveal the central idea through the three girls. The three girls physical appearance were constantly being judged by society. Through Lengel’s actions and one of the girls be referred to as Queenie, the reader becomes aware of how judgmental society is toward females. In fact, Lengel goes on to say, “we want to decently dress when you come in here” (3).