A & P by John Updike Literary Analysis

by Alysha Creasy, June 2015

900 words

3 pages


A & P by John Updike Literary Analysis

Sammy is the narrator of “A & P.” he is a 19 year old casher in a town in Massachusetts. The whole story takes place in summer and the whole representation of the story is aimed at, as described by John Updike, as a range of intentions of Sammy to try to find his place in the society and in the world.

Sammy believes that most people in the town or at least those who come to make purchases at the store are “sheep”. He even calls them to be “scared pigs in a chute (Updike).” Such expressions, as well as some grammatical mistakes, demonstrate that Sammy does not belong to intellectuals.

The more likely, he has graduated from school and did not have an opportunity to enter college. Moreover, he believes that all people in the world act in the same way, look the same and even think the same.

Thus, he finds himself in despair as actually he is not able to break this boring environment. However, everything changes when he meets the girls who come to the store in bathing suits only. To be more accurate, it is necessary to mention that the one whom he called Queeny became the reason of his decision to quit; Sammy saw her as his change to break the reality and make his dreams come true.

However, rudeness of Lengel played an important role in the process of decision making as well. He was not very nice with the girls and this pushed Sammy to the decision. He said that he quits so abruptly because this was the first time he tasted that he might have power and at the same time pain, making the choice to ignore future disappointment of his parents and the difficult life which he might have after quitting.

Talking about difficult life, Sammy focuses on the fact that he leaves in a small town, so quickly everybody will know that he quit and this means that he is not the best worker. As a consequence, it would be much more difficult for him to find another job.

The life is not expected to be easy for Sammy and one of the reasons is that he belongs to the “blue collar class (The Interview with John Updike).”

These and many other facts about the story can be learned from the first eleven paragraphs. The most important ones involve place where the story happens, the main participants of the story.

All the elements of the section are essential – some of them are important to understand the idea of the author, while the rest contribute to the general image of the city and to the greater understanding of the situation and conflict.

Probably, Sammy’s coworker could present the material as well. However, it would be viewed from his perspective of a 22 year old man, who already has two children. The more likely is that he would not make the same decision as Sammy. However, the scene when …

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