The Themes Of Conformity In A & P By John Updike

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Many young adults now would not know how different conformity was back in the day or how strong of a desire people have for independence that they start to rebel. Maybe they did because that is how coming-of-age is all about from the past and in the present. In John Updikes “A & P”, we meet a young boy name Sammy who grows a desire of change from the conformity of his town and a need for independence upon seeing a sexually attractive and independent young girl he nicknamed “Queenie”. The themes represented in the story centers around conformity and desires of independence driven by sexual attraction which creates an act of rebellion for Sammy when he quits his job at a small town supermarket.
The time and setting of the story is at a supermarket
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Updike describes this time during the “early Kennedy years” a time where it was acceptable to conform and compares Sammy’s character to celebrities such as James Dean and Elvis who were the symbols of rebellion against conformity. Sammy quitting his job was practically him saying “I’m not going to be one of you sheep” according to Updike in an interview. Sammy knows of the consequences of quitting as he calls it “the sad part of the story” (Updike 150) but he does not show any regret to his decision when he says “it’s not so sad [himself]” (Updike 150). His manager, Mr. Lengel, pursues him to rethink his decision by bringing up his parents and stating that “[he’ll] feel this for the rest of [his] life” (Updike 152) in which Sammy agrees with him in his mind. But even though Mr. Lengel is his higher authority, Sammy does not seem to respect him as of his boss. He calls Mr. Lengel “dreary” and describes him to be part of such conformity in the town since he “teaches Sunday school and the rest” (Updike 151) and seems to insult his physical appearance from years of working at the supermarket by saying he looked “old and gray” (Updike 152). Sammy thinks decisively and continues on with his decision, knowing the consequences of disappointing his parents and not knowing what will happen next. But he walks out and sees the “sheep” from the outside, realizing the decision he made and how “hard the world was going to be to [him] hereafter” (Updike
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