A&P: Point of View

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Point of view is a very important element of literature. In the book Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing point of view is described as, “the vantage point from which events are presented” (Kirszner and Mandell 300). The point of view of a story is simply the view of whoever’s telling it. Kirszner and Mandell inform readers that if the narrator can enter all the characters’ minds and always knows what is going on, then he is omniscient (303). Kirszner and Mandell also tell readers that if a narrator can only enter one character’s mind, then he is a limited omniscient narrator (304). Point of view plays an important role in the effectiveness of a story. By analyzing John Updike’s “A&P” one can observe how point of view is used to develop characters and theme.

The development of characters is very closely tied to point of view. In the case of “A&P,” Sammy is a major first person unreliable narrator. The story seems to be about an emerging counterculture revolution. Sammy appears to be in the middle of this revolution. The three girls signify the emerging counterculture and the manager signifies the current culture at the time of the 1960’s. If the manager was telling the story, then readers would’ve gotten a more negative view of the girls. The girls would’ve given readers an equally negative view of the manager. Sammy, on the other hand, judged everyone. His juvenile mind was also subject to less biasness since he was too naïve to try and sugarcoat any of his descriptive thoughts. If someone was fat he said it. If someone was old he said it. This helped speed up the development of other characters, which is essential in a short story. Throughout the story, readers get an insight into Sammy’s thoughts which helps them understand and empathize with Sammy’s character. It becomes apparent he is a person who hates his job and desperately desires the attention of females. He also pays attention to detail like any good narrator should.

Point of view also affects...
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