Character Analysis Of Sammy's Sheep Metaphor In A & P

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The grocery store “A&P” is a dismal place to shop, and more so to work. It is a place where you can look anywhere and still feel like you are looking nowhere. In the A&P things never change and neither do the people, that is atleast to Sammy, a nineteen year old cashier. Throughout “A&P,” Sammy refers to the average customers of the store as sheep and relates the A&P to a kind of slaughter house. Through the comparison, Sammy makes shoppers out to be simple minded people conforming to the system around them, yet unknown to Sammy he is part of the same system which he criticizes. Thus the fault in Sammy’s sheep metaphor is his failure to realize that he too is part of it. Sammy’s lack of awareness of his situation and his own place in the …show more content…

He goes to work every day, he does his job, and even though he mocks his friend Stokesie for thinking “he’s gonna be manager some sunny day” it is later revealed that Sammy thinks the same about himself (Updike, 2). Additionally, Sammy’s mocking of Stokesie reveals just how out of touch he is with himself. Sammy and Stokesie are very similar: they are around the same age with Stokesie being only three years older, they both are trying to make a career out of working at the A&P, and they both oggle the same women strolling in the store. Still, Sammy clumps Stokesie with the rest of the staff and shoppers as conformers to a dismal A&P system, conveying just how ignorant he is of his own obedience even when in the presence of vast evidence. So while Sammy may make fun of shoppers for always visiting the store, walking the same way, and buying the same items, Sammy too is just as boring and predictable as those he mocks. In fact, Sammy is so ingrained in the system that after he quits, he admits that “he will feel [it] for the rest of [his] life;” beyond just being a part of the conforming, predictable, mind numbing nature of A&P, Sammy is actually dependent upon it (Updike, 5). Unfortunately, Sammy is oblivious to his dependency, and the sheep comparison Sammy enlisted to mock the customers actually fits him better because at least the they can choose to shop at another store. In …show more content…

Due to the dissonance between the way he sees himself and the store, and the way the two actually are, Sammy is unable understand how his actions will effect him. The best example of this is Sammy’s quitting his job. In the moment, Sammy maintains the viewpoint that the A&P is a conforming system, but wishes to stand up for three non conformists represented by girls in their bathing suits. To Sammy these girls don’t fit within the system either because "it's one thing to have a girl in a bathing suit down on the beach... and another thing in the cool of the A&P," and due to their nonconformity he is able to identify with them (Updike, 2). So it makes sense that when Lengel degrades the girls Sammy attempts to revolt against the system. But since Sammy either doesn’t realize or doesn’t accept that he is both part of said system as well as dependent upon it he is unable to comprehend the long term effect his quitting will have on him. So while from his viewpoint of looking down on the A&P, quitting will have no effect on him and may even gain the attention of the three girls, in reality because he is so much a part of it he will actually be the most affected. It isn’t until the end of the story that Sammy appears to understand this, but still goes through with his choice to quit anyways. As a result, it appears that Sammy is falling on his own sword, but for who? The girls? "They're gone, of course"

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