John Updike's short story "A & P" reveals nineteen-year old Sammy, the central character, as a complex person. Although Sammy appears, on the surface, as carefree and driven by male hormones, he has a lengthy agenda to settle. Through depersonalization, Sammy reveals his ideas about sexuality, social class, stereotypes, responsibility, and authority. Updike's technique, his motif, is repeated again and again through the active teenage mind of the narrator Sammy.
Sammy is, like most young men, object-minded. The object of his mind is the female body. Although his upbringing and the fact that he is at work do not allow him to voice his admiration for the girls in bikinis at the A & P, he lets the reader know, in no uncertain terms, what he is thinking. He gives each girl a name--Plaid, Big Tall Goony Goony, and Queenie--based on his evaluation of their physical body parts. The game is one that teenagers play the world over, with countless hours spent seeing and being seen. The primary object to view, in Sammy's eyes, is the queen. He describes how "she must have felt in the corner of her eye me and over my shoulder Stokesie in the second slot watching, but she didn't tip. Not this queen" (28). Sammy goes on to tell how "she [...] turned so slow it made [his] stomach rub the inside of [his] apron" (28). The irony of the setting is that the girls, dressed in nothing but swimsuits, have turned the neighborhood grocery store into a human meat market, with themselves as the commodity of choice for the male consumer.
In Sammy's mind's eye, the queen was of such regal bearing that she commanded his worship. He envisioned his well-bred idol as being of a higher social class than his own. ...
... middle of paper ...
...iphany that afternoon in the A & P.
Sammy's immaturity and lack of experience were largely to blame for his wrestling with conflicting roles in his transition from child to adult. Updike's protagonist was at the same time an imaginative, observant young man who stood by his convictions, defending the girls to the end. Sammy was perhaps more intelligent and more gutsy than one would like to give him credit for, however. He knew what he did not want out of life. On that Thursday afternoon in the A & P, his name game caught up with him. Quitting his job was to be a turning point for him, a time for him to confront his own issues of sexuality, social class, stereotyping, responsibility, and, on a deeper leve, authority.
Updike, John. "A & P." Literature: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. Ed. Robert DiYanni. 5th ed. New York: McGraw, 1998. 27-31.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- T. Coraghessan Boyle's "Greasy Lake" and John Updike's "A & P" have many similarities as well as differences. Both are coming-of-age stories that teach some sort of lesson to the protagonist at the end. “A&P” is about a nineteen-year-old boy who stands up against his manager to impress a couple of girls who are dressed “immodestly”. “Greasy Lake” is about many nineteen years olds playing a prank on a couple of bad characters who turn out to show the teens what they can really do in return. Luckily, the narrator and Sammy both realize their deficiency after the situations with the other characters.... [tags: T. C. Boyle, Greasy Lake, John Updike, A & P, ]
663 words (1.9 pages)
- A Feminist Perspective of Updike’s A&P Two Works Cited John Updike’s story, "A&P," starts off: "In walks three girls in nothing but bathing suits," and that pretty much sums it all up (Updike 1026). In the story, not only are the girls in bathing suits looked upon as sex objects, but other women are negatively viewed as witches, farm animals, or slaves. This story is about how a young man in the early 1960’s viewed women as a whole, including his own mother. At the beginning of the story Sammy complains about an older woman, a fifty-year-old "witch" with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, who is waiting to check out her groceries.... [tags: A&P Essays]
763 words (2.2 pages)
- In the poem, “Ex – Basketball Player” by john Updike, (which is a narrative poem) illustrates the nature of life on how life is potentially is seen has a mirror to other people’s life, especially people who play sports. Life is the physical and mental experience of an individual. An in the poem the main character Flick, supply the poem with a good example of how life is potentially a mirror for other people. This poem is formally organized, even though it locks some qualities, it still haves the qualifications of a good poem.... [tags: Literary Analysis, John Updike]
1078 words (3.1 pages)
- Sammy the Social Climber in A & P Men will go to extreme measures to impress women. This is the case in the story "A & P" written by John Updike. Sammy, who is a cashier at a supermarket, displays a classic example of a man trying to impress a woman. His rash decision to quit his job was a bad decision and will definitely have an adverse effect on him in the future. Sammy seems doomed from the very first sentence when he says, "In walks three girls in nothing but bathing suits" (Updike 1026).... [tags: A&P Essays]
823 words (2.4 pages)
- John Updike's story "A&P" talks about a 19-year old lad, Sammy, who has a job at the local grocery store, the A&P. Sammy works at the register in the store and is always observing the people who walk in and out each day. On this particular day that the story takes place, Sammy is caught off guard when a cluster of girls walk into the store wearing just their bathing suits. This caught Sammy's attention because the nearest beach is five miles away and he could not figure out why they would still be in their suits.... [tags: John Updike]
1531 words (4.4 pages)
- An Analysis of John Updike's A&P In his short story "A & P" John Updike utilizes a 19-year-old adolescent to show us how a boy gets one step closer to adulthood. Sammy, an A & P checkout clerk, talks to the reader with blunt first person observations setting the tone of the story from the outset. The setting of the story shows us Sammy's position in life and where he really wants to be. Through the characterization of Sammy, Updike employs a simple heroic gesture to teach us that actions have consequences and we are responsible for our own actions.... [tags: A&P Essays JOhn Updike Papers]
745 words (2.1 pages)
- Critical Analysis of John Updike's A&P John Updike's A&P provides numerous perspectives for critical interpretation. His descriptive metaphors and underlying sexual tones are just the tip of the iceberg. A gender analysis could be drawn from the initial outline of the story and Sammy's chauvinism towards the female. Further reading opens up a formalist and biographical perspective to the critic. After several readings I began seeing the Marxist perspective on the surreal environment of A&P.... [tags: John Updike A&P Essays]
806 words (2.3 pages)
- The Motif of Play in A & P In the short story "A & P" the author, John Updike, uses the motif of play as one of the main means by which he develops the character of Sammy, the nineteen-year-old narrator and protagonist of the story. In his many and varied references to play, Sammy reveals, along with his obvious immaturity, his rich imagination and potential for possible growth. The story takes place in the summertime of 1960 on a Thursday afternoon. Sammy is employed at the A & P grocery store located in the middle of a town north of Boston, about five miles from the beach.... [tags: John Updike A&P]
1066 words (3 pages)
- Sammy in A&P by John Updike Is where you are in your working career where you want to be for the rest of your life. The answer to that question is simple for Sammy in the story “A&P” by John Updike. Sammy, like many others in this world, is a young man trying to make some money in a small town. But unlike some, he refuses to be stuck in the same job for many years or possibly the rest of his life. One day while working the register at a local grocery store, Sammy notices three girls walk in.... [tags: A&P John Updike Working Careers Essays]
640 words (1.8 pages)
- John Updike's A&P In a small town everything is familiar and often taken for granted. In John Updike’s short story, A&P, the main character, Sammy, discovers a beauty unlike anything he has ever seen in his small town before. Queenie’s simple magnificence so stuns him that he quits his job in her defense. The narrator says: "Around they come, Queenie still leading the way, and holding a little gray jar in her hand. Slots Three through Seven are unmanned and I could see her wondering between Stokes and me, but Stokesie with his usual luck draws an old party in baggy gray pants who stumbles up with four giant cans of pineapple juice (what do these bums do with all that pineapple juice' I've... [tags: John Updike A&P Essays]
1029 words (2.9 pages)