In the short story “A & P” by John Updike, the main character Sammy shows a sense of growth from the story’s opening to its conclusion. This certain change in him started taking place after the visit from the three girls, where he starts to ponder the future of his life. Sammy develops as a more prominent character both by the voice and the mood of the story, suggesting his vast change from rather flat to someone with more personal features and attributes.
In the beginning of the story, Sammy observes the girls after they first walk in and make their first round through the store while they shop. Sammy catches a glimpse of the one of the girls who he seems fond of. Sammy goes on to describe her to the reader saying that, “She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs.” (Updike, 148). His initial thoughts seem inappropriate and provocative. This is demonstrated by his usage of childish words to describe this girl such as the word “can” to describe physical feature of her body that attracts him and by how in-depth he goes into his description of this feature of her body. This is something that a gentleman would certainly not do and shows the readers where his mindset falls in terms of his maturity compared to his age of nineteen.
Shortly after, Sammy is involved in another situation where he doesn’t seem to handle himself in a gentlemanly manner. Just after he catches a glimpse of the girls, the woman whom he is ringing up at his cash register in the A & P notices that he is not paying attention to his job and has rung her up twice for an item she i...
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... and the mood that changed through the course of the story. Sammy’s mannerisms are characterized as very childish and ignorant at first, but after the visit from the three girls his personality abruptly starts to change as he starts to become more respectful of the women. Where he was reserved and obedient at the opening of the story, he is rebellious at the story’s closing, quitting his job for the unfair treatment of the three women. The mood also affected this overall change in Sammy. The atmosphere is more amusing and light-hearted at first, both with the playful exchange of dialogue between Sammy and his co-worker to his immature thoughts of women, and then becomes sullen near the end, where Sammy feels nothing but regret and remorse over his actions. With both of these literary elements, Sammy ultimately develops for the better at the conclusion of the story.
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