The Art of John Updike’s “a&P”

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Judging from the view of his skill in employing metaphors in A&P, John Updike is certainly a professional of short sarcastic story. Throughout the story Updike maneuvers the art of metaphor pretty well, from the symbolization of characters, the period and the cultural background, to the allegorical meaning of the story as a whole. Also, he imitates many details from Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, for example, the place where the story takes place, metaphors of the color of Queenie’s two-pieces, and the fruitless outcome of the labor of the protagonist, nine-teen-year-old Sammy. In addition, Updike meticulously describes the attitude of teenagers toward their contemporary society in the sixties and religious values by sculpting the characterization of the characters. Firstly, the protagonist is a young adult working as a checker in a grocery store A&P. The location of this store is “right in the middle of the town, and surrounded by two banks and the congregational church and the newspaper store and three real-estate offices, an appropriate symbol for the mass ethic of a consumer-conditioned society” (quoted in Porter, M 1155). Basically, as one resident of the village, Sammy is like his neighbors not used to see anything different from the conservative concept. However, as a young boy, not merely does not he disgust at their so-called informal dress, but he is captivated by the three girls’ sexually attractive appearance. Quite immature, when the three girls walk into his eyesight, Sammy stands in the third checking slot “with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not” (Updike 765). At first he is shocked, but after that he gazes at the appearance of “Queenie”, a name Sammy uses to call one of the girls to himself, especially spotlighting on her uncovered abdomen for he narrates that “her belly was still pretty pale” (Updike 766). Compared with Sammy, his manager Lengel is more mature and stricter, but he is assimilated into...
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