English Section 9
This short story takes place in 1961, in a small New England grocery store. Sammy, the narrator is a unique store clerk who is utterly fascinated by a group of girls who visit the store. The girls come right off the beach in their bathing suits to give Sammy a distraction for the day. He uses the word “sheep” to describe the store regulars, as they seem to follow one another in their actions and reactions. “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle the girls were walking against the usual traffic(not that we have one way sign or anything) were pretty hilarious.” (85) In “A&P” John Updike, using Sammy as the narrator, reveals Sammy’s childlike, immature qualities, but also his redeeming qualities when Sammy takes a stand for what he believes is wrong. Sammy’s immaturity shows that he is not fully developed. For example, Sammy could be identified as a “creeper” in the first few paragraphs. The first thing that catches his eye is the girls walking into the A&P robed in nothing but bathing suits, which is not ordinary attire for a grocery store. The narrator describes how Sammy gets distracted by the girls, and while grabbing the HiHo crackers to ring them up, his attention is diverted from his job. “I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell.” (84) Sammy is an observant of people. When checking out the girls, he first notices what they are wearing. He then proceeds to take note of their physical characteristics. Sammy rated the girls as follows: “There was this chunky one, with the two piece---it was bright and the seams on the bra were still sharp and her belly was still pretty pale so I guessed she just got it (the suit)…” (85) The first one that catches his eye is the chunky looking one in the green plaid, two-piece bathing suit. With some guys, It isn’t typical to be checking out the “chunky” one; usually the girl that catches the eye of some guys is the skinny tan chick....
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