A & P Close Reading Essay

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Alex Michael Kauth
English 101-023 Fall 2011, Culpepper, MWF
09/23/2011
Close Reading of a Literary Text

Observation is a process that is constantly performed by all individuals in everyday situations. It is a tool used to gain a better understanding of a situation, although the observer is not always aware that they are in fact performing such an act. In John Updike’s, A & P, the narrator, Sammy, finds himself observing with great detail, three female shoppers in the supermarket in which he is employed. It is through his observations that not only are Sammy’s desires exposed, but he is seen as a character who lives in the moment, and quite frankly grows up in such a short period of time. A close reading towards the bottom of page 218 in the story supports these subjects through its showing of his passion for the three girls, his quick decision making, and his overall condition. In a short matter of minutes Sammy’s true colors are shown and he is left to deal with the consequences.

It is only appropriate that the very beginning of the close reading touches upon the girl’s that have absorbed Sammy’s attention and controlled his desires from the moment they entered the A & P. The girl’s, whom he notes in the paragraph as “Queenie, and Plaid, and Big Tall Goony-Goony” (Updike), are his new obsession. His extreme infatuation with them is evident as he continuously points out not only their physical characteristics, but their every move around the store. His strong sexual desire is obvious in areas where he notes Queenie’s breasts as not just breasts but, “the two smoothest scoops of vanilla” (Updike) he had ever known. The evidence is prevalent throughout that his thoughts are dominated by sex. This does not put him in the category as a creeper of any sorts as it is clear that he is not the only one thinking the same thoughts. The close reading come’s during a situation where the manager of the store, Lengel, is addressing the girls who are in their...
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