An Analysis of John Updike's A&P

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Interpretation of A&P This Story takes place in 1961, in a small New England town's A&P grocery store. Sammy, the narrator, is introduced as a grocery checker and an observer of the store's patrons. He finds himself fascinated by a particular group of girls. Just in from the beach and still in their bathing suits, they are a stark contrast, to the otherwise plain store interior. As they go about their errands, Sammy observes the reactions, of the other customers, to this trio of young women. He uses the word "Sheep" to describe the store regulars, as they seem to follow one and other, in their actions and reactions. The girls, however, appear to be unique in all aspects of their beings: walking, down the isles, against the grain: going barefoot and in swim suits, amongst the properly attired clientele. They are different and this is what catches and holds Sammy's attention. He sees them in such detail, that he can even see the queen of the bunch. Sammy observes their movements and gestures, up until the time of their checkout. At which point, they are confronted by the store manager and chastised for their unacceptable appearance. He believes their attire to be indecent. Sammy, feeling that the managerial display was unnecessary and unduly embarrassing for the girls, decides to quit his position as checker. Thought he knows that his decision may be hasty, he knows that he has to follow through and he can never go back. He leaves, with a clean conscious, but the burden of not knowing what the future has in store. This story represents a coming-of-age for Sammy. Though it takes place over the period of a few minutes, it represents a much larger process of maturation. From the time the girls enter the grocery store, to the moment they leave, you can see changes in Sammy. At first, he sees only the physicality of the girls: how they look and what they are wearing, seem to be his only observations. As the story progresses, he notices the interactions between the girls, and he even determines the hierarchy of the small dynamic. He observes their actions and how they affect the other patrons of the business. Rather, how the other people view the girl's actions. His thought process is maturing and he starts to see things as an adult might see them.

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