A and P: A Take on Society

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"A&P" is a short story written by John Updike that gives readers a glimpse into an alternate view on society. The story, described in vivid detail through the eyes of the main character Sammy, takes place in a small-town grocery store called "A&P." Although on the surface this piece is a story of a typical teenager, it is what is in the opaque water below that is the most interesting. The story of "A&P" shows the narrator's view of society and his unwillingness to become like all the others that he describes as "sheep." The author shows his pessimistic view of society by describing how the individual members of society follow pre-determined rules and rarely stray from their set paths. Sammy has a strong fascination with a group of girls who boldly enter the store in nothing but bathing suits and keep their heads up high, despite the looks of all of the other customers. Updike shows us his view of society through the customers he describes as sheep, the free-thinking girls, and of particular interest to Sammy is the most confident girl leading the pack, whom he calls "Queenie." The author uses the term "sheep" throughout the story to describe these typical customers of the grocery store who are led quite blindly by the structure of their society. It is this term that displays the author's true pessimistic view of society's limited mindsets. These "sheep" are the people who all follow the common and highly worn path, never questioning the norms of society. In the story, the author describes how "the girls were walking against the usual traffic" which clearly shows how the "sheep" follow a set routine common to one another, such as a herd of animals. Updike also says "you could set off dynamite in an "A&P" and the people would by large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists." Although this statement is overly dramatic it clearly shows how oblivious the "sheep" are to what is around them, everything except the bold young girls who...
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