Better Decisions, Better Life
John Updike, who is known for his brilliant prose style and the sensual details in his stories, takes everyday tasks and gives a whole new perspective to it. Like in “A&P”, which is a narrative from the perspective of a nineteen-year-old boy working in the checkout line. Even though Sammy is just an average boy, something significant happens that day at the grocery store. The story revolves around Sammy’s journey from adolescence to adulthood and his resignation from the job at the grocery store marks the major change. Even though Sammy’s conscience disagrees with his decision, his need to escape the monotony of his life drives him to take it. The author uses various symbols to present a gradual progression into Sammy’s decision in the end.
As a teenage boy in a town in Boston in the 60s, Sammy did not have much going on for himself – his responsibility was to earn some money to manage the household expenses. For his he had to work at the grocery store. His co-worker Stokesie, who is only three years older than him, is married and has two children. He hopes to become the manager of the grocery store and is the only other co-worker mentioned in the story. Sammy obviously feels a strong connection with Stokesie, as they both eye the bikini clad girls together. Also, he mentions that the only difference he can tell between Stokesie and himself is the number of years they are apart (Updike 531). But from the tone in which Sammy talks about Stokesie, it is easy to see that he does not respect his co-worker as much. Instead he feels as though he is looking into a mirror of the future and he lives a life similar to Stokesie’s. Updike’s intention was to portray Stokesie as the future reflection of Sammy.
Although when the girls enter the grocery store dressed skimpily, they present Sammy with a whole new world. Sammy says “you never know for sure how girls’ minds work”, instead he imagines it to be “a little buzz like a bee in a glass...
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