“A & P” by John Updike
Composition and Rhetoric II- ENGL 1302
Professor Patricia Sayles
Character Analysis in John Updike’s “A & P”
In a small town the identity and actions of an individual are from time to time harshly overlooked and what society views as proper and acceptable is the only way. In John Updike's story "A & P" Sammy is a young clerk who lives in a complex society while trying to figure out his individuality and identity. Because of characters and events that surround him, Sammy realizes that he can be an individual in society by confronting society and quitting his job. In the beginning of the story Sammy seems discontent with working at the “A & P” grocery store as a cashier but he settles to society’s way of life and acts content. When he describes the A & P environment and its customers, which he refers to as “sheep”, it seems pretty monotonous. Nothing ever happened at A & P, every day the “sheep” pushed their carts in an orderly fashion, following the traffic, scratching off their grocery list as they went down the aisle, and did what was considered proper and acceptable by society. The sheep followed society’s rules and its way of life without any questions or doubts as if they yearned for some type of approval from society. One Thursday afternoon three girls entered A & P with nothing on except for their batting suites. One of them, Queenie, especially stood out to Sammy as he observes the girls walk around the store and observes how their presence seems to alter the atmosphere in the store. He becomes aware of how Queenie and the other two girls walk independently with a sense of individual control against the usual A & P traffic. At the sight of the three girls the sheep react with a puzzled shock and then go back to their acceptable daily routine trying to avoid the girl’s independent behavior and overlook their individuality. As the girls were trying to...