The Turning Point in John Updike's A&P
English 1 B
1 / 24 / 2012
The Turning Point
Finding out who you are and maturing into an adult happens in different ways for different people. In John Updike’s “A&P”, it is very interesting to see how the theme of coming of age slowly starts to unravel in the main character as the story progresses. The story portrays the protagonist, Sammy, as a very observant yet immature teenager who yearns the feeling of being independent and free. Through the events that take place in the store, you are able to compare the state of mind and maturity level that Sammy possesses from the beginning of the story to the end. Analyzing his co-worker, Stokesie, and the incident with the three girls and his manager, Lengel, help Sammy question himself about what he really wants; which is to make some sort of change in his life. Sammy’s decision to quit his job demonstrates his definitive desire for independence and freedom.
A great example of Sammy’s dependency is when he explains how his mother still irons his clothes, “… I just saunter into the electric eye in my white shirt that my mother ironed the night before…” (pg 289). This clearly gives you an idea about where Sammy is in his life. If you have to have your mom iron your clothes for you, there is no doubt that you depend on her to do certain things that a grown adult wouldn’t need done. This explains why Sammy acts the way he does at his work. Sammy, who works as a cashier at the A&P convenient store, is miserable working there and realizes that dealing with the same agenda everyday becomes boring and repetitive. He even goes on to mock certain customers in his head as a way to feel better about the situation that he’s dealing with, “I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not. I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell… I know it made her day to trip me up… she gives me a little snort in passing, if she’d been born at the right time