A&P Critical Essay

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Claire Koob
Mrs. Ens
English 20-1
Final Draft

A&P Critical Response

“It’s our policy” (6), A&P by John Updike, a short story centered on conformity and an adolescent named Sammy claiming his independence. The grocery store represents a box that cages Sammy in and prevents him from experiencing a maturing phase in his life. The every day ritual of the store is “empty” (4) and everyone usually has “nothing much to do” (4). The grocery store never really changes and is a bit of a “Crummy” (6) place to be as customers are as boring as “sheep” (6). Sammy has accepted the bore by molding himself into the store, observing and analyzing every square inch of the building. Sammy feels like the store has control over him, like he has been painted white and camouflaged into its vast walls. He needs to find his own unique colors and paint his own life’s picture.

Throughout the story, Sammy feels that the store is a “flat” (5) and “dreary” (5) place with no real purpose. He struggles with finding his own path and not simply being spoon fed by his family and friends. Breaking free is a scary thought for Sammy because he believes he still plays an important role in the “great big dune” (6) and is “nervous” (6) to jump off of the edge and take a risk. The grocery store exemplifies never-ending repetition and to Sammy, is perceived as “a pinball machine” (4). John’s metaphors back up the fact the grocery store is a constriction and impediment in Sammy’s life, which makes him feel like his future has been written out for him.

“I quit” (7), the moment Sammy’s life changes. He decides he will not submit to the ever-grasping claws of the store pulling his “Bow tie”(7) too tight, strangling his chance to grow outside of its claustrophobic walls. Sammy finds his confidence and determination when he makes the decision to quit, making a “clean exit” (8) into the “sunshine” (8), his independence taking bloom like a late sprung flower. Although he makes this...
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