Review of Harriet Blodgett's Critique of John Updike's A&P

Pages: 2 (503 words) Published: October 16, 2010
In ‘Updike’s A&P’ Harriet Blodgett uses imagery to make a statement that critics have ignored Updike’s use of the girls as legendary Sirens in his story A&P, that no one else has observed this collection of imagery in the story, and that this is important for the interpretation of Sammy. Blodgett acknowledges that Updike has used Sammy to be a hero for the girls, but feels that critics have missed the obvious use of the girls to purposely tempt Sammy. And that Updike used this imagery to make the reader think of a mermaid, which would mean Queenie was a Siren. The Images Blodgett uses to come to this conclusion begin with the market itself, the surrounding beach, and the fact that the girls came to the market to purchase herring snacks. Blodgett points out the physical attributes of Queenie that are similar to a mermaid, and points out Queenie walked in a fashion that could show a resemblance to a mermaid. And she also believes that the herring snacks flashing in her blue eyes, as an image, equate her being aquatic royalty. Blodgett feels Updike really meant for the reader to piece these things together and come to the conclusion that Queenie was a Siren.

Harriet Blodgett seems to have found something in A&P that no other critic has noticed before, and possibly not even Updike himself. Blodgett seems to stretch details of this story to conform to her idea. She thinks the herring snack the girls are buying is an image that “none of the critics pays attention to” (273). But she fails to include that this item is what Sammy uses to decide that Queenie is upper class when he pictures men “standing around in ice cream coats and bow ties and the women were standing in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks” (134). This Imagery was not missed, but instead it was just a portion of a very important image used in the story, the image that Queenie was upper class. Blodgett then used the description that Queenie walked “as if she didn’t walk in bare feet much”...

Cited: Blodgett, Harriet. “Updike’s A&P.” Explicator; Summer2003, Vol. 61 Issue 4, p236-237, 2p.
Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 20 Sept. 2010.
Updike, John. “A&P.” Portable Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing. 7th ed. Boston:
Wadsworth, 2010. 131-6. Print. (Kirszner/Mandell)
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