Steven Updike's "A & P" Character Overview

Topics: John Updike, Thought, Married... with Children Pages: 2 (514 words) Published: March 4, 2013
Crossing the Road into Independent Thinking
Many can remember the transition into what parents coin as the scariest part of raising kids. There are signs of it happening, such as late nights coming home without calling, deciding not to do chores that are expected of them, or simply not communicating as much as before. Positive signs can come about as being more responsible, but usually it is more self-concerned. In John Updike’s “A & P”, he illustrates the situation of how a young man evaluates his life and makes a decision to think on his own. Many young people go through this process, but the way they handle it can affect them for a lifetime.

Sammy, a cashier for A & P, is tired of the hum-drum grocery life. He is bored with how the “sheep” file in and mindlessly go about their shopping routine. When the girls come in in an unexpected way, it brings excitement into the store. He is attracted not only to them physically but their rule-breaking ways. He negatively describes the customer he checks out as a “witch, along with other customers as “sheep”. Also, he pins his manager, Lengel, as a “dreary, Sunday school teacher”, and his co-worker, Stoksie, as married with kids. He obviously realizes that he does not want to be a part of the controlled ways of the establishment when he makes the decision to quit. It is quite a bold, rebellious move, although, conformably, he also ogled the girls. Although he was against Lendel embarrassing “Queenie”, he still was not totally innocent of conformity. But as he followed through with his decision, it marked his emergence into his own thinking as an adult.

Mr. Lendel is the typical authoritarian, someone who enforces the rules. He had to maintain a steady level of order within the store. Any wavering would hamper his ability to have control of his employees. Even though he had to enforce the rules of the store by approaching the girls with their choice of attire, he still attempted to reason concernedly with Sammy on...
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