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.
The use of various and different archetypes such as the threshold guardian and the defiant anti-hero in “A&P” coveys John Updike’s changing perception of women and the values in today’s society. When the reader is first introduced to Sammy, they see him observing “three girls in nothing but bathing suits” and privately starts pointing out distinct physical features such as their “sweet broad soft-looking can” and how “the third one wasn’t so tall. She was the queen.” (Updike 1). Sammy is a very atypical person and doesn’t fall under society’s norm of a gentleman or one who shows any form of chivalry towards women..
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.
Updike's use of Sammys prominent opinions about the girls, and the use of a specific setting further presents one main theme of conformity. “A&P” takes place in an A&P grocery store in the 1960’s, this setting plays an important role in the theme because it exemplifies the strict standards of how one should live, dress, and behave. Updike's use of Sammys opinions completely foes against the whole idea of conformity. Sammy and Lengel argue, “‘You didn't have to embarrass them.’ ‘It was they who were embarrassing us’”
John Updike’s story “A&P” is a literary masterpiece that reveals the expectations of a man at the prime of his youth and an old manager in a society that is seemingly so strict on social ideals. Told from the first person point of view, the story is a strong way to show what the character Sammy learns in the shop as he develops his personality traits through the buyers and the manager. Written in the present simple tense, the story proves to be more appropriate for oral presentation. The purpose of this essay is to present a critical analysis of the personality traits of the character Sammy. In order to present the character traits analysis, the essay contends that a person is described through what they say, do, and think, what others think or say about them, or how the author describes them.
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
1. This exposition that includes details about Sammy is vital to the story’s development because this part shows us who Sammy is as a person. The exposition allows us to see what his opinions are in life and what he believes in. We are able to see his personality traits and his social class in relation to others. The author, Updike, illustrates how Sammy is slightly insecure and immature about approaching the girls and instead spends time with his coworkers discussing them. The exposition shows how he is longing for something different in life, to move away from working in the same store just to please his parents.
“A&P” by John Updike is a short story expressing the issues of female objectification and degradation in society by following a young A&P employee’s views (Sammy) as they change through experiences second hand. Sammy goes from stereotyping objectifier to a form of a public defender, standing up for girls who can’t really do so for themselves. Sammy initially characterizes and describes all of the people in the store based on their looks and his initial opinion of them, rather than waiting to make judgements based on their personality, or not at all. He is very critical of looks, and is judgmental about why and how they look or act the way they do.
Updike writes, “stopped, and turned so slow it made my stomach rub the inside of my apron”. At this point in the story you might not think it’s much of a hint, but it really is a big clue for what is to come. It is when Sammy has a vision of what one of the girls life is like at home that we realize he wishes he kind of wants to be like her. In this vision, “Her father and other men were standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a big plate” (Updike par. 13). To show Sammy wished his family was more like hers, Updike compared their families by writing, “When my parents have somebody over they get lemonade” (par. 13).
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.
In the short story “A&P” by John Updike the readers are introduced to Sammy, a young cashier at an A&P supermarket. The story is told from Sammy’s point of view and the readers see how Sammy’s heroism attempt failed. When three girls walk into the supermarket with nothing but their swimsuits the girls get scolded by the store manager, Lengel, and since Sammy was attracted to one of the girls, who he called Queenie, he thought that standing up to his manager for them by quitting his job would get her to notice him. Instead, by the time he got to go after the girls they were gone and it was like they didn’t even know he existed. The climax of the story is located towards the end when Sammy quit his job because Legnel shaming the girls for wearing the swimsuits is Sammy’s breaking point and the climax affects my attitude towards Sammy in negative way because he made such an idiotic decision over a girl
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).
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.
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.
Although Sammy quit, he found a sense of freedom in these girls, He wanted to be different just like them and that is what he pursued after the right motivation. The Author used Sammy to show that being different is a good thing, but making irrational decisions in pursuit of non-conformity can leave you with