“Wrong Decision” In the short story “A & P” by John Updike, is about a young man that is miserably employed. The short story tells of a small town boy quitting his job for all of the wrong reasons. The story began with a description of a three girls who changed Sammy’s life. Sammy develops the setting to tell the story of how he is a discontent grocer, and he is put in to a situation of the harsh reality of the adult world after making a childish decision. Updike tells the story using the elements of point-of –view, character, and plot. Updike uses the element point of view in the short story “A & P,” to help the reader realize the how Sammy expressed his feelings about the situation. Sammy has recently turned nineteen years old an age at which the stone the things were once written in, begins to erode. The late teen years are years that tend to be the age where when most people began to have greater sense of whom they truly are. As a result they tend to challenge authority as well as values and social mores that they have been told all of their lives are right. Updike pokes gentle fun at Sammy because he succumbs to the girls who are cast roles of the legendary Sirens—the mythological temptresses damsels’ proverbial knight and shining armor (Blodgett).
However, this age also marks the period in their life where the line between childish rebellion and asserting one’s self as a responsible adult becomes blurry. Sammy made the decision to quit the job as a grocer because he felt that the girls were being mistreated and he wanted their attention. Sammy was not aware of the decision he was making at the time, he was thinking with his hormones. Sammy felt like this was a good idea at the time to get the attention of the three girls in the store. As he said, “I said I quit” (Updike, 101), he the realized that he couldn’t believe that he said that and quit his job. He decides that he does not want to live the rest of his life working as a grocer at the A & P store. In the short story, “A &P”, uses character as the main element. Sammy is the main character that is a young man that is at a point in his life that he is thinking of himself. When the three young girls enter into the store with their bathing suits and bare feet, Sammy get really excited and changed his swiftness. Sammy being a teenager has hormones that are really strong that allowed him to become unaware of the importance of his job. There are several other characters in the short story that are important. Stokesie is a role model of Sammy’s, because he is a 22 year old working at A&P doing the same job as Sammy but is supporting his family wishing to become a supervisor someday. Lengel is the store manager that runs the A & P store. Lengel is a friend of Sammy’s parents. He warns Sammy not to make the decision to quit his job by stating, “Sammy you don’t want to do this to your mom and dad” (Updike 102). Lengel is concerned that Sammy was thinking rational at the time of his decision to quit his job. Updike has the reader thinking that Lengel is a person not only a friend of the family, but also concerned that Sammy is a good young man and feels that he is not thinking about his future. Sammy was upset with his manager because he did not understand how he could be so rude to the three young ladies in the store. He is just an adolescent that did not think out his decision, but yet made up his mind. Sammy had a forceful stand against his boss Mr. Lengel, who nearly kicks three girls out of the A & P store for falling to comply with the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule, the established critical stance has placed Sammy in the position of “hero” (Saldivar 215-225). Updike has the reader into the story by allowing the plot to be so demanding to know what was going to happen next. The popularity of A&P rest on number ironic ambiguities but the...
Cited: Ed. Noelle Watson. Detroit: St. James Press. From Literature Resource Center,
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