John Updike's a & P Man vs. Society Conflict

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A & P Conflict
Sammy vs. the Sheep There are many different opinions and views as to what is right or wrong. Society has developed a standard as to how an individual should act or portray themselves. In reality the majority of public comply with this policy. They prefer to be average and mundane. A literary analysis of John Updike’s A & P will show how the main character chooses to rebel against this social order An ordinary day at work can change the rest of your life. The story is told in the third person point of view. The setting is a petite and old-fashioned town that sits just North of Boston. In this touristy town is a typical grocery store labeled A & P. The store sits in the middle of town on Central Street, looking out of the doors two banks, three real-estate offices, a newspaper store and the Congregational church are all in view. Bright fluorescent lighting, organized aisles, and conventional setting depict the atmosphere. The main character is Sammy who is an employee at A & P and dislikes his job. He is an adolescent, who resides with his parents and enjoys making them proud. Sammy does not enjoy the customers and their boring personas. He states, “I bet you could set off dynamite in an A & P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering, let me see, there was a third thing, began with an A asparagus, no applesauce” (Updike para. 5). The customers Sammy deals with are ignorant and arrogant. Except three good looking girls who come into the store less dressed then others, Sammy relates to them and chooses to defend them. Sammy is faced with the conflict of man vs. society. Throughout the story Sammy struggles with the customers at his job. This battle first presents itself, while he is ringing up a patronizing, snobbish lady who is always pointing out his mistakes. He then notices a lady sneering at the girls because of them being dressed in beach attire.



Cited: Updike, John. “A & P.” Blair Reader. September 14, 2011.

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