February 24th, 2012
Intro to Literature, DiRaimo
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Freedom: Four Teens Search For Freedom in John Updike's "A&P"
Throughout history, there have been those who lead, and those who follow. Up until the 1960's, oppression and conformity were strong characteristics of the U.S., especially for women. There is only so much a person can be controlled however before they begin taking steps to break free from the powerful grip of what society dubs as right, and appropriate. In John Updike's short story "A&P," Sammy, the main character, along with three daring and audacious women make bold, and somewhat rash choices in order to combat what was deemed as acceptable in society's eyes. Such can be seen when the three young women make the bold decision to enter a public establishment in only bathing suits during a time where girls had to be prim, proper and appropriate at all times. And by Sammy making the impulsive and brave decision to quit his miserable job in order to stand up for what he believes in, he is liberated from an occupational position that weighed him down mentally and emotionally. If closely analyzed, the elements of setting, imagery, and characterization in John Updike's "A&P" not only depicts a story of freedom, but also a desire for something new and better in life.
Too often, the setting of a story is overlooked. This is unfortunate, for the setting can unlock many details that help depict the themes of the story and the attitudes of the characters within it. Updike's story takes place in 1961 in a suburbia located in Massachusetts. This was a time right before the pot of oppression and conformity boiled over and the counterculture took a stand against the "norm" of society. During this time period, people, women especially, were expected to look prim and proper at all times. By these girls walking into a public establishment with "Nothing but bathing suits on," they challenge how women...