A & P By John Updike Literary Analysis

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As people make their way through life, they often find themselves at a moment where they must make a choice between what is familiar and the possibility of something greater. In the short story “A & P,” written by John Updike, while working as a cashier at an A & P grocery store, a nineteen year old boy named Sammy finds himself at the moment where he must choose whether to stay or depart. It is only when Sammy is unexpectedly forced to contemplate his current predicament, does he decides to make his first life altering decision. Sammy looks to his coworkers, Stokesie, McMahon, and Lengal, and the possible futures they represent, and ultimately decides to relinquish his job to aim for a more prosperous future modeled by Queenie.
Stokesie,
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Chronologically speaking, the next progression up the corporate ladder after working as a cashier is a department position like Mcmahon's job. Sammy shows resentment for Mchahon, especially as he states, “All that was left for us to see was old Mchahon patting his mouth and looking after sizing up their joints, poor kids, I began to feel sorry for themt” (Updike 432). Sammy’s animosity towards Mchahon is apparent when he expressing sympathy for the girls, simply because they were being observed by him. It is Mcmahons qualities which make him such an odious character to Sammy. He is a dirty old man and perverted one at that. Sammy looks at Mchahon with disgust; treating him as if he is an old disturbing pedophile “patting” at little girls in their bathing suits. Lawrence Jay Dessner expressed similar opinions over Sammy’s thoughts about Mchahon. In his article titled, "Irony and Innocence in John Updike's 'A & P’”, Dessner explains that “to Sammy, his ogling the girls is absurd, ludicrous, grotesque, even distasteful, a response Sammy neatly expressed when he says that Mchahon, the butcher, is “sizing up their joints,”” (Dessner 317). Once again, the notion that Sammy, “is quietly disgusted by the butcher's frankly lustful gaze” is stated in Toni Saldivar’s article titled, “The Art of John Updike's A & P.” Because Sammy would undoubtedly be forced take a similar department position, it is appreciable to think that Sammy would rather avoid becoming a dirty pathetic loser like

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