February 23, 2012
Assignment Week 5/6 – Analytical Essay
John Updike's story "A & P" epitomizes that moment of realization for most young adults, that following through with the choices one makes, and being able to accept the consequences of ones actions goes hand in hand with becoming a mature adult. In the beginning of the story, Sammy comes off as just another naive and rebellious teen. He is bored with his mundane job at the A&P, and has some very strong opinions about the customers, referring to them as sheep. As the story progresses, Sammy realizes how much more important his convictions are to him, than the need he feels to conform to society. He uses standing up to Lengel for Queenie, as a way to finally express his opinions, instead of continuing to pretend he is happy with conformity because it is what society expects him to do. In the beginning of the story, Sammy is construed as a very opinionated person, but his principals are not firm. He thinks one thing, but does another. He doesn't state his principles, but we can guess some of them by reading between the lines. When a woman chastises him for ringing an item up twice, he mentally insults her at the same time as apologizing out loud. “By the time I got her feathers smoothed and her goodies into a bag – she gives me a little snort in passing, if she'd been born at the right time they would have burned her over in Salem...” (17). He dislikes the conformity that working at the A&P represents, but admits he has done nothing to separate himself from it. When comparing himself to his coworker he remarks, “Stokesie’s married, with two babies…but as far as I can tell that’s the only difference.” (18). He thinks that he will inevitably become just like Stokesie and in turn like the manager Lengel. The idea of living life this way is not enticing to him. He doesn’t know what he wants, but working at the A&P is not it. We can infer...