English Comp. 2
March 6, 2013
The short story, A&P by John Updike, is about a young man named Sammy who struggles with mortality, authority, and freedom. The young man lets his desires and his anger gets a little too far ahead of him and ends up quitting his job at the A&P store. Updike in this short story goes from a little boy with unrealistic ideas and fantasies, to a young man who is about to realize how life changing the choices he make can be. Sammy will definitely feel this event all his life. By quitting his job, he is rejecting Lengel and his middle-class, uptight attitude. In Sammy's mind, the girls should be able to come in dressed in beach ware and not be judged. Frivolous behavior should be tolerated and not frowned upon. If they are dressed to scantily and cause people to look at them, that's okay. They're young. If men look at them, that is okay too. It's okay to look at pretty girls without feeling guilty. Sammy really grows up throughout the course of the story. As Sammy walks away from the store he realizes "how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter" (Updike). Sammy realizes that much of the world is filled with people who think like Lengel, and that he will be the one to buck the system. He is not willing to go along with the status quo, and that will make his life difficult. The Lengels of the world are just too narrow to simply enjoy watching a pretty girl. Sammy will be able to enjoy those simple pleasures without condemning them. "Quitting his job is his first step in achieving this goal. Sammy was obviously enthralled by the girls from the moment they walked in the A & P. He was not keen on the other two girls, but Queenie overwhelmed him. He may have even taken a liking to Queenie, but any average, nineteen-year old male would do the same after witnessing such striking beauty as is described. On the other hand, the average male would not quit a job and create such turmoil...
Cited: Hatcher, Nathan. "Sammy’s Motive." Ode to Friendship & Other Essays. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Norfolk, Virginia: 1996. 37-38.
Updike, John. "A & P." The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.
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