Deconstruction In John Updike's A & P

1029 Words5 Pages
“A&P” by John Updike is written through the eyes of a young grocery store clerk named Sammy. While working, a group of girls walk into the store, wearing their bathing suits, causing all the workers to drool over them, but when they come to check out the manager Lengel tells them that what they are wearing is against policy. As the girls leave, embarrassed, Sammy courageously quits his job due to this incident, hoping to impress the girls, but as he walks out of the A&P he realizes that they are gone. Post-Structuralism, also known as Deconstruction, is a school of literary criticism where the reader “focuses on the inherent, internal contradictions in language and interpretation” (deconstruction). In essence, the reader must read between…show more content…
As said by Ronald E. McFarland,
The incongruity of the common HiHo crackers and a luxury hors d'oeuvres like herring snacks anticipates one aspect of the hard lesson that Sammy will learn. Queenie's brand-name symbol represents a world completely alien to that of Sammy, who visualizes her parents and their stylish friends ‘picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a big glass plate’ (Updike 1170).
This brand-name vs. off-brand that is represented in “A&P” may be a way of Updike showing us that Sammy isn’t even on the same playing field as Queenie and the other girls.
Furthermore, Sammy goes on to imagine Queenies’ parents and friends “standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties” and “holding drinks the color of water with olives and sprigs of mint in them” (Updike 1171). Donald Grover explains
…show more content…
It may be that when he “fold[s] the apron” and “drop[s] the bow tie on top of it” (Updike 1171), he is trying to become more like the girls through eliminating items of his clothing. The girls, through their bathing suits, may be representing the freedom they have, to go wherever they want to go or do whatever pleases them. It is quite the opposite for Sammy, whose work outfit may represent the freedoms he doesn’t have, possibly that his job at the A&P is his life. Thus, when he takes off his apron and bow tie, he may be desiring to become like Queenie and the rest of the girls: free. This quitting of his job may have been his desire to chase after and impress the girls, as explicitly stated, but it may also be his hope for a better life, fruitful like the girls. A life where he too can dress how he wants and do as he desires. Therefore, the girl’s clothing might not only represent a sexual appeal, but a longing for

More about Deconstruction In John Updike's A & P

Open Document