The Crucial Role of the Setting

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Stephanie Trumble
Dr. Raymond Considine
ENC1102 online
January 25, 2013
The Crucial Role of the Setting
John Updike’s short story “A&P” is about the main character Sammy working in an A&P grocery store in the middle of a northern town in Boston in the summer. In Sammy’s eyes it is colorless, boring and free from any excitement. It is a very mundane job for him until one day three girls walk in to the store wearing nothing but their bathing suits. It causes quite a stir within the store attendants and ends with Sammy quitting his job. If the events in this story were to take place in a little town near the beach, there would be no cause for alarm by the other characters. The idea that this story is taking place in a grocery store is also a very important distinction because it makes way for an even greater conflict. However, it being set in the summer also comes into light, even if it is in a minor way. The setting in this story plays a crucial factor, almost playing a role of its own, because it is one of the main reasons for the conflict in the plot. One example of the setting being so important to this story is that it is taking place in a small town surrounded by local businesses where there is a certain standard in what one would think appropriate attire would be. If this story were to take place in a small beach town, a couple of young girls walking around in their bathing suits might not cause such a reaction because people would be used to it. It can be understood when the narrator, Sammy, explains, “we’re right in the middle of town, and women generally put on a shirt or shorts or something before they get out of the car” (34), that the towns folk are not accustomed to women walking around in next to nothing. It is considered inappropriate, and by describing that there are people in the town that haven’t even seen the beach in many years (34), he is reiterating how unusual it is to see women like this. Another point that the setting is so...
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