John Updike A & P Conflict

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A & P is a short story by John Updike written in exquisite detail. It features classic plot elements, such as the setting (A & P grocery store) and the protagonist (Sammy.) It also contains a conflict, (the scantily clad girls entering the A & P) a goal of the protagonist’s, (to impress one of the girls and hopefully win her heart) a crisis, (the manager confronting the girls and Sammy defending them) and a climax (Sammy quitting his job.) These elements all tie the story together to create plot and makes the reader increasingly curious as to how the story ends.
Sammy, our protagonist and narrator, is an A & P grocery store cashier. The story and the conflict begin when three girls wearing only bathing suits enter the grocery store. These girls put his attention span at stake and immediately cause problems for him. As a man, his gaze is attracted directly to them, and he watches them move
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The girls quickly walk out of the store, leaving Sammy to return his apron and bowtie. As he exits the store, he sees that the girls are already gone, leaving him as alone as he was when he still had his job. Within seconds he realizes the consequences he has to face now. “... my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter” (Updike, 19.) At the beginning of the story, Sammy was a 19-year old with a stable job and no girlfriend. Here, at the end of the story, Sammy is about five minutes older with no job and still no girlfriend. A & P does an exemplary job of telling a short story. In less than five pages, Updike presents an entire story with a conflict, crisis, and climax. His careful attention to detail turns a grocery store trip into a voyage through the aisles of A & P to find love. Sammy may not have found love, but he may have found some self-respect by “standing up” for some girls. The story truly shows how if classic plot elements are assembled correctly, they connect to form compelling
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