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Posted on June 14th, 2012, by

The paper is dedicated to the short story “A & P”¯ by John Updike. It is a narration from the first person Sammy, a young employee in a grocery store in typical town. Detailed overview can allow getting the main ideas, advantages and disadvantages of a big amount of thoughts and arguments. The core focus of this paper is to describe the story’s context and meaning. Caldwell (2006) “A & P”¯ seems like a simple story about adolescent sexual desires, but beneath the obvious layer of superficiality, Sammy finds freedom in the various expressions of beauty. Sammy, the protagonist of the story, is working at his common job, with common co-workers, at a decidedly common store.

While tending his duties of ringing up items for “cash-register-watchers”¯.

The story is immediate in tone and makes me feel as if I am in the center of a conversation with the narrator himself.

This story impressed me because throughout the narration Sammy faces with some events, makes various observations that eventually lead him up to quitting the job. The protagonist Sammy has several factors that motivated him to quit the job. Three bikini-clad girls were confronted and embarrassed by the store manager. That makes Sammy think about many things and eventually quit the job. For example, he becomes interested in the most attractive girl Quennie and he and his coworker Stokesie joke. But they have different positions. Sammy is still single in contrast to Stokesie who is married. Updike (2006) when observing “Queenie”¯ for the first time she “didn’t even have shoes on”¯, arousing both his sexual appetite and his immediate ability to deduce she is from the “Point,”¯ an upscale summer colony that distinguishes those with means. He is “attracted to the girl not only by her physical beauty, but also by her regal bearing and ”¦ disdain for small-town mores”¯.Ā  Sammy wants to join girls which are allowed more freedom than he is. That gives a new point of life view and aspires to changes. Sammy becomes excited as thinks that girls choose his checkout line.


Sammy’s maturity rises and he wants to save beautiful girls from the evil butcher, who is gazing at them (and his wishes are not esthetical but erotic).Ā  Sammy understands that he does not want to be like that guy. The store manager, Lengel forbids girls to enter the store in bathing suits. Then Sammy tries to gain girls’ attention by quitting.

It was just his personal concept of freedom. Sammy wants to be a hero for those girls, but they just kept on going without a notice of the chivalrous act. Lengel gives Sammy a chance to back out, but he does not take. Lengel tells him that his parents will be disappointed, but Sammy believes that “once you begin a gesture it’s fatal not to go through with it”¯ (Updike 2006) and exits the “A&P”¯.

Sammy is idealistic in nature. His heroic chivalrous act turned into a moment, which changed his life. He becomes mature and refuses to stay captured by monotony and conformity. He starts to live meaningfully and honestly. And to a deeper, Sammy becomes both victim and victor: he asserts independence from the life station and realizes that known sense of centered ”“ principle freedom will make life harder. Sammy stays alone with own ambiguous feelings and thoughts about the foreboding sense about what life has in the grocery store for him.

In conclusion, Sammy’s self ”“ discovery awakes him to the cruel climate, which surrounds people’s daily routine lives. The story is about how Sammy grows from the ignorance (innocence) to knowledge (experience). The personal freedom occurs when a human makes amends and accepts conflicts within themselves.

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