Irony In A & P By John Updike

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Symbolism and irony play a huge role in the setting of A&P, a short story written by John Updike. The setting of the A&P is essential to the story because it shows where the story is taken place, which is an ordinary supermarket. However, Updike writes “...in walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits” (John Updike 1). Without this setting at a supermarket, the girls in bikinis could not have created such a lascivious reaction from Sammy and Stoksie because Updike says, “You know, it's one thing to have a girl in a bathing suit down on the beach, where what with the glare nobody can look at each other much anyway, and another thing in the cool of the A & P, under the fluorescent lights, against all those stacked packages, with her …show more content…

Sammy is a young male who works as a cashier, and his job is mundane until a group of stark girls walk in with nothing but bikinis. To understand the irony in this situation, one must know the setting of a supermarket, and an overview of Sammy’s job. This is because in a supermarket, most people shop clad with clothes, which is why bikinis make the story ironic. If this story was at a beach, this would have been different. Additionally, Sammy’s job as a cashier is mundane, which makes the sight of the girls more fascinating and exciting for him. 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 …show more content…

If one strives to satisfy these wants, we do foolish things that we regret later. For example, Sammy says “...my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter” (2). The setting of the story was essential because it was one of the biggest causes of the action in the story. If the story did not take place in a supermarket and the girls did not walk “under the fluorescent lights” (1), it wouldn’t have created such a lustful want from Sammy, thus creating him to quit his job (which he regrets later). Ultimately, Sammy is a perfect example of how humanity becomes blinded with desire and the setting at the supermarket was what led him to it. Events such as the girls walking in at a supermarket with bikinis and Sammy quitting his job all lead to irony, which is a motif in the story and setting played a big part in

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