A & P, By John Updike

1020 Words5 Pages
What is it like to see the world through the eyes of a young man? What would it be like to let the wild imagination of a teenage boy tear into the tranquility of the written world? Like a stick being thrown in the spokes of a bicycle, John Updike’s short story, A & P, shows the mind of a young man. Updike puts this young man into a monotonous routine, and like throwing water on a grease fire Updike turns this young man’s world upside down by introducing three young women, as if coming of the beach, in bathing suits that are not really suited to a grocery store: “She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round.” (Updike 331). But are those scantily clad young “ladies” really that big of a deal? To the store’s manager they are: Lengel “comes over and says, ‘Girls, this isn 't the beach.’” (Updike 332). The hero of this tale – the young man better known as Sammy - stands up to the rule of his manager by quitting his job, and in totally accomplishes nothing but to make his parents unhappy. Updike, in the guise of a simple story, shows how he sees the world, not with the eyes of an old man but with the heart of a young man. The dynamics of the character is probably the most entertaining part of this story. First off there is Sammy; the protagonist. His point of view is the only one that is shown during this story, meaning only his side of the story is told. Sammy over analyzes everything he looks at, from the store to his town, to all the people around him, he describes them with the flair of a novelist or even better an artist. Here is how he describes one of the girls’ apparel, “With the straps pushed off, there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head except just her,” (Updi... ... middle of paper ... ...ke place. Barb Johnson thinks that the characters within Updike’s stories are, “intellectually arrogant” (the Southern Review). All of his characters seem blind to logic will inside of a confrontation making those interactions seem jarring and uncomfortably realistic. "Did you say something, Sammy?" "I said I quit." "I thought you did." "You didn 't have to embarrass them." "It was they who were embarrassing us." (A & P 323) The last paragraph of Updike’s story shows the veil of heroism fall from the eyes of Sammy. “I could see Lengel in my place in the slot, checking the sheep through. His face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he 'djust had an injection of iron,” (A & P 324) Now what Sammy has to realize is the weight of the world is a tough burden to bear. Not only does Sammy have to return home, but he will still have to see Mr. Lengel every Sunday.

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