A & P: A Character Analysis of Sammy Essay

A & P: A Character Analysis of Sammy Essay

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Bildungsroman, by definition, is a coming of age story. The word, of German origin,

translates in English as being a story that traces the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the main character from childhood to maturity. This is a prototype of John Updike's short story, "A & P," the protagonist, Sammy, is faced with a difficult dilemma, and comes to realize a universal truth about human behavior. Sammy comes to understand that the world is an unusual place and that irrational choices based on impulse are not the best way to solve personal issues.

The controversy between Sammy and his boss, Lengel, takes place one hot summer day in an A & P, located five miles from the local beach near Salem, MA. Three young ladies walk in wearing beach attire, consisting of nothing more than bathing suits. Just because these ladies have bathing suits on, which usually means that they are sexually desirable, does not mean that they are all mesmerizing. One of the girls is wearing a plaid green two-piece bathing suit. She is a chunky one with an enormous "can" (334). Sammy notices that she has a nice tan, except for the white creases outlining the bottom of her "can" (334). The second girl is described as being the girl who never quite makes it, which means that she is the ugly one of the trio. The third girl is the one to which Sammy is sexually attracted. Described as the "queen" of the group, Sammy notices that her bathing suit straps are down and between her stomach and neck is her monolithic chest representing a "dented sheet of metal" (334). Racing, raging hormones striving within Sammy take over his train of thought, and he is immediately lost in lust.

During the mid-to-late 60's, bik...


... middle of paper ...


...t is done, is done.

This short story makes a person think of all the Lengels in the world, the kind of person who just gets under the skin the second they open their mouth. Yes, there are many of them. However, Updike has displayed in his short story, "A & P," that to be the stronger person and to have a positive outlook through negative ordeals is a trait that is difficult to find within oneself. Sammy overcame the struggle within himself and is now a more honorable person, although he is jobless. Lengel is the best thing that ever happens to Sammy, because he now has an attitude, a voice, and -most of all- a broader frame of reference as to how society "operates."

work Cited

Updike, John. "A & P." Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2005. 333-337.

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