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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Sammy even at the beginning of the story you learn that he doesn’t think as himself as a follower or a sheep. Sammy doesn’t consider himself to be like his fellow co-workers Lengel and Stokeise who follow the guidelines of this corporation. Sammy begins to change when these three girls with bathing suits walk into the store. The presence of the girl’s cause Sammy to make an error at the register. The girls wearing bathing suits make Sammy think about the defiance of the norm.
Although the rich and the poor may be categorized into two different communities, they do, however, both share a similar characteristic. The stories “A&P” by John Updike and “Wife of His Youth” by Charles W. Chesnutt each have protagonists, or characters we should identify with. The character, Sammy, from “A&P” is comparable to Mr Ryder, from “Wife of His Youth” in multiple ways. In “A&P” Sammy is a grocery clerk who sees some beautiful women. He decides to stand up for them when his boss confronts them, and ends up quitting his job.
Updike also uses symbols to further the idea of individualism. For instance, Sammy applauds the girls in ”nothing but bathing suits”, which represent self-expression and a clear disregard for the small-town social norms. The girls themselves even personify individuality in Sammy’s mind with the way they “[walk] against the usual traffic”, both literally and figuratively. When Sammy quits his job, he sheds his uniform, a symbol of corporate conformity. The apron has “‘Sammy’ stitched in red on the pocket”, but this tiny bit of personalization is nowhere near enough for Sammy, because at the end of the day, it all belongs to the establishment, even “the bow tie is theirs”.
As such, "A&P" and "Sonny's Blues" serve as powerful literary examples that dive into the intricacies of human identity and the ways in which individuals strive to break free from societal constraints to assert their individuality. In John Updike's "A&P," the main character, Sammy, impulsively quits his job at a grocery store after defending three girls in bathing suits who are reprimanded for their attire. However, as Sammy searches for the girls outside the store, he realizes the potential consequences of his impulsive action. The grocery store represents a commodified society where people's desires are determined by their purchasing ability.
The time to Mature As the story of “A&P” unfolds, readers can see a change in the main character from the start of the story to the end. John Updike’s main character Sammy in “A&P” conveys the theme of growing up through making decisions based on how others are treated, and what he wants for himself in order to mature and find his identity. Throughout the beginning of the story readers can see that Sammy is still a very immature nineteen year old because he easily gets distracted by three girls who enter into his job in bathing suits. “The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece”.
Caring - about people, about things, about life - is an act of maturity. Sammy, the narrator in the first story narrative “A&P,” demonstrates the development of his maturity through the actions he displays by standing up for the girls who were humiliated by a grocery store manager. Updike’s short story, demonstrates how youth display rebellion and immaturity due to their everyday struggles. While some people may seem to take a more mature approach in their development process, everyone matures in a different way. People want to be unique and accepted in their own way which explains Sammy’s actions.
This becomes Sammy’s biggest change, the decision he makes all for one girl. He had quit his job, not thinking about the consequences all for the attention of Queenie. His act of sympathy became Sammy’s only strong action the entire time the girls have been there. However, the girls do not give him the attention nor the impression he desired. He had quit for no reason and soon after realizes it when leaving the store, he was
In this passage from “A&P” in which Sammy has just quit his job and takes in the consequences suggests that he regrets making his impulsive decision. The author shows this through the use of contrasting, word choice, and imagery. In the first part of the passage the author is trying to show the terrible way the situation Sammy was in ended up with. He was looking for “his girls” in the beginning of the passage showing that he wished that “his girls” would have stayed to watch the so called heroic move he made.
One of the things Sammy comes to understand during his job is how he is to be one with the corporate system symbolized by A&P. At the beginning, Sammy is quite clear that he is not like the “sheep” and “house-slaves” shopping up and down the aisles. Sammy is confident that he is neither a conformist like Stokesie, who wants to climb the management ladder, nor is he a lackey like Lengel, who haggles over cabbages and hides behind his office door all day. As he surveys the scene, Sammy displays this wise guy attitude. However, this persona disappears when the three girls enter the store in bathing suits.
The Impact of Setting in John Updike’s “A&P” “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle--the girls were walking against the usual traffic (not that we have one-way signs or anything)--were pretty hilarious” (Updike 651). As an average cashier at a plain A&P store in the middle of town, the protagonist Sammy is unaccustomed to customers in provocative attire. Queenie and her two friends (one chunky, one tall) are outcast in a setting of tremendous social conformity, and quickly catch Sammy’s watchful eye with their unexpected bikinis. Unabashed in teenage ignorance, these three girls continue to shop for herring snacks, unaware that consequence is at their doorstep.
It is clear by the “kind of jerk, or hop, or hiccup” their bodies perform at the sight of Queenie and their quick aversion when “their eyes [snap] back to their own baskets” that they do not approve of the girls. Along with this, Sammy describes some of the viewers as “house-slaves in pin curlers” (Paragraph 5). By referring to the women as “house-slaves,” he is revealing the true role of women in this society - to be the typical stay at home mom who cooks, cleans, and takes care of the children. For further proof, he describes the typical woman customer as one “with six children and varicose veins mapping their legs” and says that they “generally put on a shirt or shorts or something before they get out of the car into the street” (Paragraph
3 The story of “A&P” by John Updike adopts the uses of figurative language to embellish the critical moments of transitions of people’s lives, particularly in the life of Sammy. Updike utilizes crafts of plot, character, setting, point of view, theme, and symbol to constitute the story, and to project the idea of "life passages. " Also, Sammy undergoes a series of events that enables him to transition as a person in his life. 3
“A&P” by John Updike is a short story expressing the issues of female objectification and degradation in society by following a young A&P employee’s views (Sammy) as they change through experiences second hand. Sammy goes from stereotyping objectifier to a form of a public defender, standing up for girls who can’t really do so for themselves. Sammy initially characterizes and describes all of the people in the store based on their looks and his initial opinion of them, rather than waiting to make judgements based on their personality, or not at all. He is very critical of looks, and is judgmental about why and how they look or act the way they do.
Discuss one of the following regarding John Updike's "A&P": Characterization, Setting, Theme. Sammy is the narrator of this story. He is an opinionated teenager who describes people shopping at the store as “sheep”. He believes everyone acts the same.
In John Updike’s short story “A&P,” Sammy is the narrator and cashier at the grocery story A&P. The author uses dynamic characters with immensely different personalities to portray conformity and rebellion in our society. Through out the story Sammy challenges conformity and social norms at his work place for personal reasons. Sammy is very bitter character and taken as a realist which fuels the story. Queenie, a rebel against conformity, sparks Sammy’s emotions after the way she is treated by his boss Langel when she walks into the grocery store with nothing but a bikini covering her skin.