“A&P” is a short story by John Updike, published in 1961. The story takes place in an A&P grocery store in a small town in Massachusetts. The protagonist, Sammy, is a young man who works at the store. He becomes attracted to three teenage girls who come into the store wearing only their bathing suits. Sammy admires their beauty and their confidence, and he decides to do something to help them. He offers to pay for their groceries.
Although “A&P” is set in a grocery store, it is not really about groceries or shopping. It is a coming-of-age story about a young man who learns some important lessons about life. Sammy learns that he can’t always get what he wants, and that he has to be careful about how he treats other people. He also learns that appearances can be deceiving.
“A&P” is a classic story that has been anthologized many times. It is considered one of Updike’s best works, and it continues to be popular with readers and scholars alike.”
In John Updike’s A&P, the story of an immature young man and his choices illustrates how the shift from boyhood to adulthood might have unpleasant consequences. Sammy appears to make a hasty decision that he believes is correct. However, Queenie and her pals are unaware of Sammy’s actions, leaving him to grow up and deal with his repercussions on his own.
This story is relatable because many people have made similar decisions in their lives. The reason this story is so powerful is because it can be seen as a coming of age story that many people can connect to. Sammy growing up and dealing with the consequences of his actions is something that everyone has to do at some point in their life. This story is a great example of how literature can be used to teach life lessons.
Sam is constantly lusting after the ladies and describing their features. Queenie’s latches of her swimsuit, he says, “were pushed back and nothing between the top of her suit and the top of her head except just her.” Although his lechery appears to be coming from a young nineteen-year-old male, Updike suggests that Sammy is moving from boyhood to adulthood.
This is evident when Sammy quits his job because he does not want to be associated with a place that would treat the girls so poorly. In a sense, Sammy becomes the A&P’s unexpected “hero” by quitting his job in order to preserve the girls’ dignity.
While it may seem that Sammy is simply acting on impulse and does not think about the possible consequences of his actions, Updike suggests that Sammy is actually displaying signs of maturity. For example, Sammy is well aware of A&P’s return policy and knows that the girls will be able to get their money back. He also knows that by quitting his job, he is giving up a stable source of income.
While he is wearing a “white shirt that his mother ironed the night before,” he compares himself to Stokesie, an older coworker, by claiming that the only difference between them is that “Stokesie’s married with two toddlers scrawled on his fuselage.” By expressing dissatisfaction with the idea of merely remaining at A&P as a life profession like Stokesie wanted to do by becoming manager someday, Sammy demonstrates his transition from boyhood to adulthood.
Sammy also has an Aha! moment that he is “not in his right mind” when the girls are walking around in their bathing suits and he begins to have crude thoughts about them. Sammy A&P by John Updike is a story of a young man, Sammy, who works as a cashier in A&P grocery store. Sammy is nineteen years old and is going through the phase between adolescence and adulthood. The passage of time is significant in this story as it reveals Sammy’s maturity level as he quits his job in A&P.
Sam sees things differently than his peers. It’s an important transition for him, and he may just be thinking about it. Now that Sam has made a bold statement, “I quit,” after his boss has humiliated the three girls, he understands that he must follow through with it. Even Lengel tells Sammy: “I don’t believe you realize what you’re talking about,” implying that he isn’t mature enough to make the right decision.
Sammy is defiant and stands his ground because he doesn’t want to work in a place that would treat the girls so poorly. This event marks a turning point for Sammy as he makes a decision that will change his life.
While it may not seem like a big deal, quitting his job was a huge deal for Sammy. He had worked at the A&P for three years and it was pretty much the only thing he knew. For him to just up and quit without any notice or plan shows how fed up he was with the A&P and how ready he was for a change. This act of defiance also showed how Sammy was no longer content with living a boring, mundane life. He wanted something more, even if he wasn’t quite sure what that was.
The girls that Sammy quits his job for are also an important symbol in the story. They represent something new and different that Sammy is attracted to. They are also a symbol of change and freedom, which is something that Sammy is longing for. Overall, the girls represent everything that Sammy wants in his life but doesn’t have.
Sammy’s response of “I know you don’t, but I do” displays that he is independent and old enough to make his own decisions–even if they might bring shame to his family. Sammy also explained that it’s fatal to not follow through with a gesture once you’ve started it. The transition into adulthood becomes apparent when he quits his job and recalls every detail precisely.
The girls’ A-line skirts swaying as they walked made him feel “kind of dizzy,” he was sweating, and his stomach felt like it “had fallen through to his knees.” Sammy is also growing up because he is experiencing new emotions like love and sexual desire. He becomes entranced by the girls and acts impulsively because of it. While most teenagers rebel against their parents in order to establish their independence, Sammy does the opposite by siding with them. In doing so, he cements his adult status.
The climax of the story comes when Sammy quits his job in an act of defiance. He does this to gain the girls’ respect and to prove that he is not like the other A&P employees who ogle them. Sammy’s boss Lengel tries to stop him, but he is unsuccessful. Sammy is finally able to see the girls as people and not just objects. This is a turning point in his life because it marks his transition from adolescence into adulthood.
The resolution of the story is ambiguous. Sammy does not know what will happen to him now that he has quit his job. He feels liberated and happy, but he also realizes that he may have made a mistake. The girls do not thank him or even acknowledge his sacrifice. They simply walk out of the store and out of his life. This leaves Sammy with mixed feelings about what he has done. On the one hand, he is proud of himself for standing up for what he believes in. On the other hand, he is unsure about his future and what will become of him now that he has taken this bold step.