“A&P”As people age, maturity and wisdom is gained through every experiences.From the time a child turns eighteen and becomes an adult, they are required to deal with the realities of the real world and learn how to handle its responsibilities.In John Updike’s short story, “A&P”, the protagonist Sammy, a young boy of nineteen, makes a drastic change to his life fueled by nothing more than his immaturity and desire to do what he wants and because of that, he has do deal with the consequences. From the beginning of the story, it is clear that Sammy in no way likes his job, nor is he fond of the customers and people he is surrounded by each day.
To Sammy, they are nothing more than “sheep” going through the motions of life.“I bet you could set off dynamite in an A&P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering ‘Let me see, there was a third thing, began with A, asparagus, no, ah, yes, applesauce!’ or whatever it was they do mutter.” (Updike, 693).He view them negatively; to him they are boring and useless, living mundane and unimportant lives and it’s obvious through Sammy’s portrayal of them that he doesn’t want to ever become one of them, nor does he want to be around them any longer. It is also clear that for Sammy and everyone else who works at the A&P that the job is boring, simply by the way they react to the arrival of the three unique teenage girls.Granted the only people working in the store are men, they still find the arrival of the girls to be extremely exciting and an event worth waiting for.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
“The store’s pretty empty, it being Thursday afternoon, so there was nothing much to do except lean on the register and wait for the girls to show up again”(Updike 694).They take pleasure in the girls visits, and when they do arrive, Sammy makes it clear that he is not the only one captivated by them; McMahon at the meat counter is seen “sizing up their joints” (Updike 694) and Stokesie expresses a constant fixation with the girls as well, which he shares with Sammy the first time they come into the store.Also, in contrast to the “sheep”, he views the girls as though they are superior to everyone else in the store.They stand out amongst the customers, “walking against the usual traffic”(Updike 693), and not blending in, and Sammy almost idolizes that; he sees the way their simplistic yet unique appearance and actions distinguish them and he seems to really appreciate it.About the “Queenie” he says “I mean, it was more than pretty”(Updike 693).
And in reference to the other customer’s reaction Sammy says “…there was no doubt, this jiggled them.A few houseslaves in pin curlers even looked around after pushing their carts past to make sure what they had seen was correct” (Updike 693).Although Sammy isn’t really voicing a positive or negative stance on the issue here, he makes an effort to point out how unique and almost distracting they are to everyone in the store.
It also becomes clear that Sammy wants to know more about them through his fixation with them, which may add to the reason he wanted to quit; he hoped to captivate their attention and gain their praise. When Sammy sees the store manager, Lenegel, embarrass the girls, not only does Sammy see the ability to look gallant in front of his three mystery girls, like an “unsuspected hero” (Updike 695), he also sees the ability to get out of his boring nine to five job.Partially, because he is only nineteen and very immature in the way he views the world, he may have thought the girls would find him heroic.However, as soon as he quits his job he realizes that they didn’t seem to care; it was just a silly childish fantasy he hoped would come true.After leaving the store, Sammy says “I look around for my girls, but they’re gone of course” (Updike 696) as though he knew from the beginning that although.