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Analysis of John Updike’s “a&P”

  • Date Submitted: 10/08/2012 10:01 AM
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Analysis of John Updike’s “A&P”
The story “A&P” takes place at in an A&P grocery store located in a small town, specifically in the 1960’s. We are introduced to our main character Sammy, who is one of the cashiers at the store. Sammy is a young man you isn’t at the happiest point in his life, but rather bored and doubtful towards his future. At one point in the story a group of girls walk into the grocery store and Sammy becomes particularly fascinated by them. While the girls are shopping Sammy observes how the other customers react to this outgoing group. He begins to see how these girls are in reality “going against the grain,” compared to the regulars who shop there. As opposed to the usual attire, the group is wearing their bathing suits and walking around bare foot. He notices how they are different than the others, and this is what interests him. When the girls finally check out, the store manager confronts them and they are criticized for their appearance. But Sammy on the other hand believes the situation is being blown out of proportion. Therefore, with a sudden sense of rebellion, Sammy abruptly quits his job. Afterwards, he believes what he did was right, but is unsettled by his unknown future. The question is, “Was quitting his job a loss or gain for Sammy?” Although this story takes place within a few minutes, I believe it symbolizes a greater process of maturation. By quitting his job Sammy prevented himself from being another common product of society.
It’s apparent that Sammy feels suck at this point in time in his life. Instead of the A&P being a grocery store, it acts as a prison that keeps Sammy from venturing outside the box.   As a young man, he seeks excitement and adventure; which is something the A&P cannot give him.   He feels that there is something better out there waiting for him, and he would love to go find it. But at the same time his future is unknown, and without a guarantee of a steady salary, life isn’t going to be pretty.   At...


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