Interpretation of "A&P" by John Updike

Topics: John Updike, Adolescence, Short story Pages: 2 (886 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Interpretation of a short story

Although I find the story A&P by John Updike to be entertaining with some comedic interplay, I mostly see this story as a teenage drama that is played out through the eyes of a young man named Sammy. This is a story set in the early 1960’s of a typical teenage boy’s indifferent feelings toward his job, until one particular afternoon. John Updike’s development of characters and his use of diction and imagery are great elements that make this story entertaining. Sammy seems to have a rather indifferent outlook on his job and the people in the A&P. I see the confliction in Sammy regarding his job in how he looks at the purpose of the store and refers to it as a “pinball machine” rather than an essential part of the community. He also has little regard for the mature women in the grocery store, as he views them as “sheep” more or less grazing down the aisles. He also refers to the elderly woman who is focused on her grocery bill as a “witch”. Rather than being courteous to all of the customers, Sammy only focuses on the bodies of the young girls in bathing suits, typical of a teen boy. Sammy is very blasé about his job which can be seen when he says “The store’s pretty empty, it being Thursday afternoon, so there was nothing much to do except lean on the register and wait for the girls to show up again.” Over all, Sammy could be described as a typical teenaged boy with no respect or understanding of women who lets his hormones cloud his judgment. The only other character I can truthfully evaluate from this story is Lengel. He is a seasoned boss who is aware that the only way to properly run a business is to have rules. Lengel understands the necessity of rules and laws in the entirety of society. I do not feel that Lengel’s intend was to embarrass the girls’, it was to defend the feelings of his regular customers and their children. Having been a teenager at one time, I am certain when he says to Sammy “You’ll feel this for...
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