Conformity In A & P By John Updike

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In the short story “A&P” by John Updike, Sammy quits his job because he realizes that he is tired of his same routine at the checkout counter and he wants to have the courage to stand up for people who do not always follow the masses. Upon seeing Queenie’s embarrassment when she is confronted by Lengel, Sammy realizes that he wants to change the way others treat those who express their individuality and uniqueness. Sammy longs for a society that is free of stereotyping and judgement. Queenie and Lengel are on opposite ends of the spectrum of conformity and Sammy is caught right in the middle. In order to make a point and to stand up for people who want to be original by expressing themselves, Sammy takes a chance and immediately tells Legel …show more content…

Sammy, a nineteen year old cashier at a local grocery store, is not pleased with his job, with his customers, or with the A&P in which he works. Sammy says that “after [he checks out customers] enough, it begins to make a little song, that [he hears] words to” (Updike 19). This shows the reader that Sammy’s job has become more of a mindless activity for him than a job that requires hard work and dedication. Sammy also does not like working for his boss, Lengel. Lengel thinks that he is the “head lifeguard” (Updike 19) who can treat everyone as if they are lower than him. This ego that Lengel has makes Sammy not want to be around his job in order to stay away from his manager. …show more content…

The A&P is a microcosm of society as a whole and the pressure to conform to unspoken rules. It shows how social and peer pressure is placed on people who are different. Sammy quits his job because of Lengel’s choice to address the situation with Queenie publicly, to embarrass Queenie, to make her feel uncomfortable, and to make her feel unimportant. Sammy realizes and disfavors that Lengel tries to be a kingpin and make the other pins of the world follow his lead. Sammy also quits his job because he does not want to conform to the image that others want him to be. He plays it off as trying to be the girls’ hero, but when he stands up for them, “they’re gone, of course” (Updike 20). Sammy knows that the girls would not see his actions and he knows that they would not matter to the girls, but it mattered to him. He wants to world to know that it is okay to be different and it is something that people should never be ashamed

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