Character Analysis of Sammy in “A&P”
John Updike’s contemporary short story “A&P” is narrated by Sammy, a nineteen year old checkout clerk at a local grocery store. The story focuses on a specific experience concerning three young girls who enter the store. Through Sammy’s observation and analysis of the girls and the other patrons, the reader is able to better understand Sammy’s personal character. Sammy is immature, boldly chauvinistic, and bored with his mediocre surroundings. However, by the end of the story, Sammy does undergo a preliminary initiation into maturity, placing his outlook for the future and old way of life in question. Besides the obvious examples given throughout the short story, Updike also provides subtle clues of Sammy’s immaturity. As Sammy leaves the store after quitting, he describes walking through the door “in [his] white shirt that [his] mother ironed the night before” (228). It can be assumed that he is finished with high school and has been working for at least a year. He is still allowing his mother to take care of him or “baby” him. At nineteen, Sammy is more than capable of performing such a simplistic act. Also, during the climax of the story, Sammy announces “I quit” (228) primarily because he wants the girls to overhear him, and the gesture loses resonance when he realizes they didn’t notice. Rather than coherently explaining himself for his reason for quitting, Sammy recites “Fiddle-de-doo” (228) which is a frivolous saying of his grandmother. It is childish to dismiss an authoritative figure so easily with such a ridiculous phrase. This is supposed to be the dramatic conflict of the story; however, Sammy’s immaturity hides him from realizing the importance of his actions at that moment. Sammy has a crude and chauvinistic attitude towards the three young girls who enter the store wearing only bathing suits. He meticulously surveys and judges every inch of their physical appearance, from the texture and...
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