A & P: An Analysis of the Character “Sammy”
As people age, maturity and wisdom is gained through every experience. From the time a child turns eighteen and becomes an adult, they are required to deal with the realities of the real world and learn how to handle its responsibilities. In John Updike’s short story “A&P” the protagonist Sammy is a young man in 1961 New England who works in the town’s local grocery store. In a matter of a day, Updike goes from an immature boy with unrealistic ideas and fantasies, to a man who is about to realize how life altering the choices he makes can be. Sammy realizes that life isn’t always fair and that sometimes it involves the consequences that life can deal to anyone who has not had time to test a rash decision. Updike’s story illustrates that a part of growing up is a willingness to accept consequences of one’s choices, and that life's hardest lessons are sometimes learned a little too late.
This story represents a coming-of-age for Sammy, as seen through his evaluations of the costumers as the story develops. Though it takes place over the period of a few minutes, it represents a much larger process of Sammy’s growth. From the time the girls enter the grocery store, to the moment they leave, you can see changes in Sammy. At first, he only notices the physical appearance of the girls: how they look and what they are wearing, seem to be his only thoughts. As the story progresses, he notices the interactions between the girls, and he even determines the hierarchy among them: “She was the queen. She kind of led them, the other two peeking and making their shoulders round. She didn’t look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima-donna legs” (Updike 132). He observes their actions and how they affect the other customers of the grocery store. Rather, how the other people view the girl's actions. His thought process is maturing and he starts to see things as an adult...
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