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Through the Eyes of a Teenager in A & P, A Short Story by John Updike Essay

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Teenagers often find themselves going through the motions of doing what they are told when they are told to do it. In conforming to societies norms teenagers begin to feel as if they blend in and nothing is really special about them. John Updike was able to write a coming of age story in which his main character Sammy gets shoved into adulthood rather quickly over spontaneous decision. Through Sammy’s thoughts, intense observations, and his actions we are able to see his deep depravity and his longing to stand out from the crowd.
Sammy is just the normal average teenage boy that works at his town’s local A&P store. From the beginning of the story we are able to see that Sammy is very opinionated, sarcastic, and has a keen observational sense with lends insight into the deeper meaning of the story. While Sammy contently describes everything around him, we are able to get a feel for how he sees the world and how he thinks about things. Most of the story Sammy is found describing three girls that enter his store. Immediately we can see Sammy’s intense fascinations about these random three girls, thinking he’s just being a regular teenage boy. Sammy, however, goes beyond the surface details to glean insights about the people he observes. One of the girls he studies a little more intently, becoming fascinated by her. He points out how, “ She was the Queen,” (Updike 19), and how she naturally seemed to lead and catch anyone’s attention in an instant. What got him the most was the dangling bathing suit straps. Obviously this intrigued Sammy in a very sensual way, but they are also clues that he uses to construct an image of her inner life. Once he hears all of the girls speak, his imagination begins to spark about the girls, as he is...


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...l as if his life was boring and dull, but the moment he quit his job he soon realized a new sense of depravity. Sammy realized the consequences he would have to deal with at home for quitting the job his parents got for him, and even more so trying to find work again in the small town. His rash decision of quitting his job for girls that had no idea he was even there shows the human nature of wanting to be noticed and loved. Humans were made to be in relationship with other humans, and when they are deprived of that attention they usually end up doing something drastic in order to get the least bit of attention. Updike used Sammy to connect with his readers in a way in which we’d realized that we all have a deep desire to be known by the world, but if we let that desire consume us into neglecting the good things we already had in life, it can ultimately destroy us.



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