A Response to “A&P”
The story “A&P” takes place in the A&P grocery store, located in a small New England town. The narration is in first person by Sammy the cashier. Sammy is a typical example of an “unreliable” narrator. An unreliable narrator is a storyteller who is a complete character in the story and whose opinions must be considered rather than simply accepted. For example, Sammy’s comment on the unknowability of the female mind should be taken as a statement in a character’s opinion and not as a statement of Updike’s outlooks on the topic. A more substantial example is Sammy’s statement that “once you begin a gesture it’s fatal not to go through with it.”(528). This quote is not a message by Updike, but simply a remark by the young naïve boy. Updike truly embodies the personality of a young bigoted juvenile male. When Sammy finally notices the 3 girls in the store, he immediately criticizes them. The way he describes the first girl is clearly the product of a teenage boy. “She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the back of her legs.” (Updike 524). If the narrator was the older man and owner of the store, the perspective would have been considerably different. Sammy continues to describe each scandalously dressed teenage girl. He is so distracted by them that he cannot remember if he rang up a box of crackers or not. As it turns out, he did ring them up, a fact that his customer, "a witch about fifty," lets him know quickly and loudly (Updike 524). Sammy goes on with his normal routine of cashing out customers. His typical teenage mentality is displayed when he reveals his thoughts on the daily customers. “Slots three through seven are unmanned and I can see her wondering between Stokes and me, but Stoksie with his usual luck draws an old party in baggy gray pants who stumbles up with four giant cans of...
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