Summer Session 2012
Sammy’s Decision to not be a Sheep and Change the Course of his Life in John Updike’s short story, “A&P”
John Updike’s “A &P” is a short story about a young man looking for change. Although the change happens for Sammy during his work day it is actually a combination of what Sammy thinks of his life and what he may feel about others in his day to day surroundings that prompt a shift in Sammy’s life. Updike tells a story that is set in an all American town with very humble beginnings. The combination of these humble beginnings along with the all too common small town rituals that he sees day in and day out while working at the local A&P molds Sammy. At the end of the story, Sammy uses his experiences and views of the residents of this town to make a decision that could be life changing. Updike displays how Sammy makes a decision to change his life by his internal reflections of the customers in the store as well as a by a young girl he is smitten with named Queenie; these reflections ultimately propel Sammy to take action on his desire to change his life immediately by quitting his job and changing his fate.
Throughout the story there are many instances in which Updike reminds the reader that Sammy is not comfortable in a world that is common place. In the first paragraph you can sense that Sammy is a little frustrated with his job. He is experiencing a tough customer that he references as a “witch” (311). On numerous occasions you hear the reference of the word sheep. Initially the thought of sheep is that they are brainless and like to be herded or will follow. Sammy describes the customers as sheep on a couple of occasions when he describes the customers walking down the aisles (312) and as they check out. Looking further into this analogy you can also say that Sammy is an unhappy sheep himself. When he rings up customers he has a special ritualistic song that
Cited: Updike, John. ""A&P"." Zweig, Edgar V. Roberts and Robert. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. 311-315. Print.