Essay PreviewMore ↓
The Hidden Class Struggle in Updike’s A & P
Two Works Cited In John Updike’s "A & P," Sammy is accused of quitting his job for childlike, immature reasons. Nathan Hatcher states, "In reality, Sammy quit his job not on a matter of ideals, but rather as a means of showing off and trying to impress the girls, specially Queenie" (37), but Sammy’s motive runs much deeper than that. He was searching for a sense of personal gain and satisfaction. By taking sides with the girls, he momentarily rises in class to meet their standards and the standards of the upper-class.
Sammy was obviously near the bottom of the class ladder, a place where he was extremely unhappy. His dead-end job at the grocery store, where lower class citizens are the prime patrons, was not a place he felt he belonged. He wanted to be a member of the family where the "father and the other men were standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a big glass plate and they were all holding drinks the color of water with olives and sprigs of mint in them" (Updike 1028). Sammy realizes that Queenie comes from this sort of background, a very different one from his. When Queenie is being harassed by Lengel, Sammy sees that "she remembers her place, a place from which the crowd that runs the A & P must look pretty crummy" (Updike 1028). Queenie’s family was in the class that he envied, that he admired, that he wanted to become a part of.
So Sammy quits his job to prove to himself, maybe to others, that he belongs in this "place." Quitting his job is his first step in achieving this goal. Sammy was obviously enthralled by the girls from the moment they walked in the A & P. He was not keen on the other two girls, but Queenie overwhelmed him. He may have even taken a liking to Queenie, but any average, nineteen-year old male would do the same after witnessing such striking beauty as is described. On the other hand, the average male would not quit a job and create such turmoil if first impression was the only cause. How interested could he actually be? In trying to figure out Queenie’s persona, he asks, "do you really think it’s a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar?
How to Cite this Page
"Hidden Class Struggle in John Updike's A&P." 123HelpMe.com. 14 Aug 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Examining Perspective in Literature When writing literature, authors will adapt points of view to mold the perceptions of their readers. Three points of view that authors use to draw readers into their works of fiction are the limited perspective, the first-person perspective, and the objective perspective. Three stories will be examined and critiqued for their use of these narrative techniques. Of the three perspectives that will be examined, the first-person perspective is the most useful for sharing the authors’ vision.... [tags: A&P Perspective Updike Essays]
910 words (2.6 pages)
- I walked into the A&P Market to “pick up a jar of herring snacks for my mother” (A&P 116). I walked in the store with my two girlfriends, whom I’m always with. I was wearing my “beige bathing suit” (A&P 114) because it was such a nice day outside. As I walked in I noticed a young man who seemed to be staring at me, but I didn’t pay much attention too. I walked tall through the A&P that day, just like I always do. I felt the straps on my bathing suit had “slipped down and where off my shoulders” (A&P 114) which I liked.... [tags: essays research papers]
806 words (2.3 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)
- 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)
- A Feminist Reading of A&P Gone are the days that humans could live impulsively, only taking physical pain and pleasure into account when making decisions. Or so one would like to believe. In a display of sheer innocence and ignorance, Sammy, a grocery clerk at the A & P, managed to revert back to the original behavior patterns of his ape-like ancestors. One cannot possibly predict the future of Sammy, given his own illogical and irrational behavior. But one can, through a careful examination of Sammy's life, determine that Sammy is just a naive, young man whose impulsive acts, partly as a consequence of his upbringing, compel him to participate in a cause not worth fighting for, instead o... [tags: John Updike A&P]
1320 words (3.8 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)
- 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)
- 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... [tags: John Updike A&P]
715 words (2 pages)
Nathan Hatcher felt that his quitting the job was a ridiculous and spontaneous decision: "Had he taken the time to think over his actions before he carried them out, he would have seen how foolish he was being and would not have gone through with them" (38). Yet Sammy’s frustration and inferiority complex had been building for a long time. Sammy had to act out and this was the perfect opportunity. His lust for Queenie was not just physical — he wanted to be "of her kind," and this was his chance.
Sammy quits his job for reasons that run much deeper than impressing a couple of girls. He did not necessarily want Queenie, but instead, he wanted her way of living. Sammy admired and envied the girls for their social standing and that’s what he was after.
Hatcher, Nathan. "Sammy’s Motive." Ode to Friendship & Other Essays. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Norfolk, Virginia: 1996. 37-38.
Updike, John. "A & P." The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.