A&P John Updike - Generational Conflict

Topics: Status Quo, Short story, John Cheever Pages: 2 (778 words) Published: September 30, 2012
Generational Conflict
Over many lifetimes, our society has grown to become a powerful and intellectual presence to inhabit the world. As time moves forward, we, the people, strive to better ourselves by creating standards of normalcy in our vast variety of cultures. However, as new generations arise, changes begin to occur and challenge the status quo. To protect their standards, older generations step up to try to combat the effects of change, which then leads to generational conflict between the two parties. In the short story “A & P,” John Updike uses symbolism, imagery, and characterization development to exemplify how younger generations begin to battle against the status quo and exploit generational conflict in the 1960’s. A symbol can be defined as “ a person, object, action, place, or event that, in addition to its literal meaning, suggests a more complex meaning or range of meanings” (Kirszner and Mandell 292). Symbolism was used thoroughly by the author to create deep meaning within certain objects. As the story begins, the narrator, Sammy, immediately acknowledges “these three girls in nothing but bathing suits” (Kirszner and Mandell 131) walking into the grocery store he happens to work at. We find that the narrator intensely describes each of the girls “two-piece” (Kirszner and Mandell 132) bathing suits and emphasizes the amount of skin is being shown off freely to the public, something not normal during those times. Initially, Sammy was caught up in view of the girls and how much they were showing off. However, as Lengal confronts the girls for their attire, Sammy realizes the freedom these girls are expressing and attempt to become their “unsuspected hero” (Kirszner and Mandell 135). As Sammy takes his leave, he folds “the apron, ‘Sammy’ stitched in red on the pocket and… [drops] the bow tie on top of it” (Kirszner and Mandell 135). The formality of the uniform with the narrators name stitched in red symbolizes the systematic and traditional ways...
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