Theme Of Defiance In John Updike's A & P

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In the short story “A&P” by John Updike, a nineteen year old grocery store clerk, Sammy, undergoes a right of passage that leads him into adulthood. This is also known as an initiation story. Sammy experiences a specific type of initiation into adulthood known as uncompleted. This type of initiation leads the main character across the threshold of maturity, which in some cases involves self discovery, while also leaving them entangled in uncertainty. Throughout the story, specific examples and symbols display Sammy's change from conformity to defiance to find what is morally right for himself.

In the beginning of the story, Updike displays the conformity Sammy feels trapped in. While in the grocery store, Sammy describes the people shopping as sheep. “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle.” (201) When I think of sheep, I think of a …show more content…

The biggest display of defiance in general are the three girls in the bathing suits. From the moment they come into the grocery store, they disrupt the normal flow of things. Not only are they just wearing bathing suits, they also walk the wrong way in the aisles, and distract the male workers. They also go on to defying the managers remark of being indecent. “We want you decently dressed when you come in here." "We are decent," Queenie says suddenly.” (203) Sammy finds himself amused and in awe of the girls resistance to what's considered “normal”. The girls actions become a message to him that being different and rebellious is ok. This realization automatically leads him to quit his job. “"You'll feel this for the rest of your life," Lengel says, and I know that's true, too, but remembering how he made that pretty girl blush makes me so scrunchy inside.” (204) Apart from quitting to impress Queenie, Sammy quits in remark to his managers behavior in embarrassing the girls. He no longer wants to support someone who makes decisions he is

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