"A&P" Analysis

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  • Topic: John Updike, 1560, 1557
  • Pages : 3 (1023 words )
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  • Published : March 2, 2013
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In John Updike’s short story, “A&P,” Sammy, the narrator, watches three girls one afternoon while he works as a cashier in an “A&P” grocery store. The girls are attractive in their bikinis, but clearly they do not impress the store manager, Lengel, who publically embarrasses them, leading Sammy to quit his job. In the end, no one notices his heroic protest, and he starts to worry whether his future will be miserable. I do not think so; I believe he makes the right decision, resigning not only to impress the girls, but also to rebel against the policy-based views in society. Although he fails to obtain respect from the girls, his decision, his first step in transforming his unsatisfactory life, may help him realize who he is and who he wants to be.

Sammy wants to change his life before he meets the girls; their arrival seems to trigger him to realize more fully his dissatisfaction. They demonstrate traits he admires. Their stunning appearance triggers his appreciation of beauty; their attention-grabbing ability triggers his desire to be distinctive; maybe Queenie’s leadership triggers his desire to be himself. As she walks in with “a kind of prim face” (Updike 1493), he explains, “Walking into the A&P…I suppose it’s the only kind of face you can have” (1493). While he’s busy watching her wander around, he expounds how “the store’s pretty empty, it being Thursday afternoon, so there was nothing much to do” (1494). He notices she’s different from her two friends, even from her steps. “Not this queen” (1493), he says several times in his observations, emphasizing her uniqueness. When he sees his queen embarrassed by Lengel, he feels he has to stand up and be the “unsuspected hero” (1496), forcing him to make the right decision for himself. Although she does not notice his resignation, he does something with free will. Influenced by the girls, he explains how much he disdains his working environment, including his co-workers and the customers. The...
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