A & P By John Updike Essay

A & P By John Updike Essay

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In the short story “A&P” by John Updike, a young store clerk named Sammy observes three young girls walking into the store, and in great detail describes the appearance of each girl. He obsesses over these girl’s every move throughout the story. Eventually the girls go to cash out only to be halted by the manager who tells them they need to be “decently dressed” when shopping at his store. After Sammy rings the three girls up he tells the manager he quits in order to impress the girls. Unfortunately they don’t notice and when he leaves the store he realizes the girls are gone, and that he has made mistake. The author paints the protagonist as an individual who despises his job, and as a very cynical person who loathes the average customer at his place of work. In the end Sammy’s epiphany allows him to recognize the error in how he viewed himself, and he learns to interpret the opinions and decisions of others with greater care and humility.
Sammy consistently overlooks the reasoning behind the behavior of others in the story. Throughout the story, the story Updike makes a great effort in painting the Sammy’s character in an emotional and arrogant individual. The way Sammy constantly refers to customers as sheep highlights the pride allows him to mock the adults in the store seem to take notice of how the girls were dressed, and then just go back to shopping. He continues to further make fun of their behavior “I bet you could set off dynamite in an A & P and people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists.” It’s these kinds of observations that eventually help him learn to appreciate the decisions made by others.
Sammy throughout the story views adults and authority figures with contempt. In the begi...


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...y all of the adults in the store were behaving in ways he found silly or stupid, and why Stokesie thought he was going to be the manager. He realized the difference between how he viewed the world and how it really was.
While the story “A&P” could be construed as the lesson a teenager learns when he quits his job. In reality it is the story about how an individual at the age of nineteen lost the arrogance that is so often accompanied by people in their teenage years, and gained the uneasiness of being an adult. In the end he didn’t have all the answers, and realized how far his arrogance would take him. He looks back at the store in regret and understanding in the error he made, and he understood the behavior of the adults that surrounded him. In the end he transformed from that vain teenager into an adult with an understanding of the importance of being responsible.

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