Summary of A&P by John Updike

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In the story A&P, we know as the story begins, Sammy is employed at A&P. He is ringing a older lady, who he describes as a "witch", groceries up. While Sammy is occupied, in walks three girls, wearing bathing suits, who catch Sammy's eye. Their attire is against the stores policy, which is not enforced, until the manager approaches them. Once the manager approaches them, we later read that Sammy quits his job. Following his first announce in him quitting, he says, "You didn't have to embarrass them" (152), which let us know, he felt the girls were embarrassed. Sammy's main point for quitting his job at A&P, in his and my opinion, is to be an "unsuspected hero" (152).
In a interview with Donald M. Murray, John Updike himself, states his opinions on the story A & P. He gives his opinion on Sammy's attraction toward Queenie, and also Sammy's decision on quitting his job. As he talked on Sammy's attraction toward Queenie, he states, "There's an element of social inequality here..." (Updike). That statement alone, opened one's eyes to notice that there is a social inequality between the two, and Sammy noticed it as Queenie began to talk. Sammy thought, "Her voice kind of startled me, the way voices do when you see the people first, coming out so flat and dumb yet kind of tony..." (151), giving the reader the impression that he knew she has some class to her. Updike goes on to give his opinion about Sammy's decision in quitting, "... A moment of manly decisiveness. For the moment, at least, he's reposing the confidence that he's doing the right thing". One may agree with Updike's opinion, because as Sammy stated himself, he wanted to be an "unsuspected hero" (152). Also, he was indeed deceived by that moment of attraction. Trying to be the girls hero, with good intentions as Updike stated, he has quit his job, which in a long run, will need.
M. Glibert Porter, another who gives his opinion on the story A&P. Porters opinion is more of a disagree with Sammy's decision. He feels Sammy's decision is not about being a hero, but about a decision he will regret for life. He goes to the section in the story when Lengel warns Sammy about his decision, "You'll feel this for the rest of your life," (152), and Porter states, "Sammy know that Lengel's prediction is true" (1157).

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Porter then goes disagreeing with Sammy's decision to a "it's ok he quit, at least he kept his dignity" attitude. He then states, "the basic nobility of his chivalric intent," (1157) agreeing that Sammy's integrity is tested. He feels Sammy's has made a movement, and to keep his word, his pride made him go through with that movement, which is to continue to quit.
Lawrence Jay Dessner's is also one with an opinion about Sammy's decision to quit. One may say Dessner disagreed with Sammy's decision. He feels Sammy has attempt to be one's hero, which leaves him less than what he started with. He had a job, now he has no job and also now has a foolish feeling because he stood up for the girls, and they did not acknowledge him nor did they notice it. He states, "The payoff of this theme ought to be Sammy's lack of concern for the consequences of his precipitous renunciation of his job" (317). Dessner is basically saying, Sammy made a decision for that moment, not realizing what he were doing, until after the fact, so now he has to suffer the consequences.
In conclusion, the opinions of the writes seem to clash a bit. Porter feels Sammy is better because he showed his integrity. "Mean what you say and say what you mean.” kind of situation. He gained "brownie points", because he made a gesture and did just that. Dessner feels Sammy is feeling regret. His decision to quit was a mistake; rather it was for a good purpose or a bad one. Updike is between both, Porter and Dessner's opinions. He feels Sammy will suffer the consequences, but he also stood up for what he felt was right. I personally feel, Sammy made a mistake of quitting his job. Even though he was making a statement, those girls were just girls, that job was support. A girl come and goes, but support comes, and once it's gone, one may have a hard time getting another one.



Works Cited

Dessner, Lawrence Jay. Studies in Short Fiction. Vol. 25. 1988. Pg. 315-317. Print.
Porter, Glibert, M. "John Updikes "A&P": The Establishment and Emersonian Cashier."
English Jornal 61. pag. Nov 1972.
Updike, John. "A&P." The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Kelly J. Mays. New York. 2013. 148-53. Print.
Updike, John. Interview with Donald M. Murray. October 29, 1995. Perf. Amy Smart, Sean
Patrick Hayes, Randy Oglesby, and Jeremy Guillory. VHS videocassette production entitled “A&P”. Harcourt Brace College Publishing. By Bruce Schwartz. 1996. Film.


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