John Updike A & P Sociology

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In John Updike’s well known short story “A & P,” Updike sets his story, in the local grocery store in a small rural town north of Boston, Massachusetts, to support the examination of social norms and what happens when one tries to break away from those norms. Sammy, a young man working as a cashier at the local grocery store, is first introduced when he notices three girls who wander into the store dressed in only their bathing suits. He then begins to reflect on the normal clientele versus the girls in the bathing suits. Sammy’s views on the everyday shoppers versus the bathing suit clad girls brings to light the dramatic differences between the two. As the story progresses, Sammy finds himself defending the girls against his manager Lengel.…show more content…
Sammy often refers to the customers in the store as sheep and house slaves. The only positive view he has is towards the three scantily clad girls, and their act of rebellion. “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle – the girls walking against the usual traffic (not that we have one way signs or anything) – were pretty hilarious” (Updike 18). Sammy’s obvious distaste in the actions of the everyday customer is evident in this statement. This statement also speaks to how Sammy views the conformity shown by the other customers and his amusement towards the girls going against the status quo. Sammy’s view of Lengel is shown very clearly once Lengel reprimands the girls for their attire in the store. Lengel being an authority figure represents the expectation to conform. “Girls I don’t want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered. It’s our policy. He turns his back, That’s policy for you. Policy is what the kingpins want. What the others want is Juvenile delinquency” (Updike 20). This helps prove Sammy’s view on Lengel as an Authoritarian demanding that all conform to the social norms. It also gives more evidence of his negative views on conformity and his support of going against the norms being
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