An Analysis Of Porter's A & P

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Porter analyzes “A & P” by relating the story to a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson regarding the consequences and benefits of nonconformity. Porter views Sammy as nothing short of a hero who rebels against the oppressive nature of policy and monotony. Porter explains that Sammy has “an eye for quality” (Porter 1) amidst the insincerity of his small town. He is surrounded by groups of people who mindlessly follow the rules that are set before them, and is angered by their blind obedience, often referring to the customers as “sheep pushing their carts down the aisles” (Updike 621) and remarks that they would not even notice if the entire grocery store exploded. This, Porter elaborates, is why Sammy is so drawn to the girls who saunter into the …show more content…

This analysis is eye opening because it places emphasis on some of the more minor characters, such as the housewives shopping with their hair in curlers, the woman who gets angry with Sammy after he makes an error while ringing up her groceries, and the man that Sammy labels as a bum. Porter’s analysis explains why Updike chose to include them in the story, and gives a deeper meaning to Sammy’s frustration and actions. These characters represent a “loss of individuality” (Porter 2) with their “joyless, wooden nature” (Porter 2). They symbolize the mediocrity that Sammy is accustomed to, and offer a stark contrast when compared to the bathing-suit clad Queenie. Though this part of the analysis is informative and insightful, the analysis becomes limited when it comes to Sammy’s characterization. Porter gives Sammy too much credit by portraying him as a chivalrous hero who, despite the consequences, forges a path of nonconformity among oppression in order to defend the virtue of freedom. Though some aspects of Sammy’s character do support this idea, Porter fails to acknowledge some of Sammy’s other comments and actions, such as his comparison of a girl’s brain to “a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar” (Updike 620), or his continued objectification of the girls. If Sammy was a true champion of justice, as Porter

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