Explication Essay of a&P by John Updike

Topics: Decision making, John Updike Pages: 3 (1060 words) Published: October 21, 2012
Essay 1-Explication Essay of A&P by John Updike
We have all had that moment of clarity when we realize, no longer children, our decisions can greatly impact the course of our future. A&P gives an insight into the main character’s realization of how he perceives his life, the lives of those around him, and how with one impulsive decision he forever changed the course of his life. Sammy, the narrator of A&P, is a 19 year old boy whose assumption of others, dislike of conformity, and his rash decision making exemplify teenage discovery, that our actions impact our future. Sammy’s assumption of others is immature and serves only as a distraction from his self-distain. He describes, in great detail, the three girls who enter the A&P, in their bathing suits. He begins with their physical descriptions, which lead him to assume their character summarizations. He goes so far as to give them nicknames. “There was the chunky one”, “a tall one, with black hair that hadn’t quite frizzed right”, and then the third one”, She was the queen.” [385]. “Queenie and Plaid and Big Tall Goony-Goony.” [388]. While Sammy is ringing up the sale in his checkout slot, he visualizes “Queenie” as this rich, sophisticated girl. He fantasizes about what her family is like and how fancy their parties must be. He then depicts his family as lower class, as if this was something to be ashamed of, and that he was above that. “Her father and the other men were standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a big glass plate.” “When my parents have someone over they get lemonade and if it’s a racy affair Schlitz in tall glasses.” [387]. His assumptions and daydreams allow him to escape his reality, temporarily. This is a coping technique, a way for him to get through the day to day, at a job his dislikes, and a life he views as beneath him. During Sammy’s descriptive assumptions of these girls, he also...

Cited: Barnet, Cain, & Burto. Literature for Composition. 9th Edition. Longman.
Updike, John. A&P. pg. 385-389.
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