A & P
A & P is a short story written by the American writer John Updike. Considered one of the best authors in American history, Updike’s stories are known for their “accurate descriptions of the details and concerns of modern America”. This short story in particular focuses on a nineteen year old boy named Sammy who is working in an A & P in a small town during the summer of 1960. A group of three girls come into the store dressed only in their bathing suits. Through Sammy’s narration we see him form his perception of the girls and the way in which it causes him to become outraged at his managers demeaning use of authority. His frustration at his own social and economic standing combined with the way in which he regards the upperclass because of a learned ideology causes him to make a rash decision at the end of the story.
Sammy’s lack of power becomes apparent early on in the story. He becomes distracted by the girls arrival and accidently rings up a customer twice. This elderly customer berates him and Sammy is thinks to himself that “it made her day to trip me up”. The reader watches as he analyzes the girls and decides the prettiest one must be the leader and refers to her as “Queenie”. It is interesting that Sammy assumes the most attractive girl in the group holds the most power. He says, “You never know how a girls’ mind works but you got the idea that she had talked the other two into coming in here with her, and now she was showing them how to do it, walk slow and hold yourself straight.”
Sammy’s own social and economic background plays a large part in the way this story unravels. He is not that much older then this group of girls yet he is stuck working a menial job during the summer whereas they are free to enjoy their summer vacation and spend leisure time at the beach. Later on in the story when he hears ‘Queenie’ speak he imagines her home life and compares it against his own. He says, “All of a sudden I slid right down her voice...
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