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A & P by John Updike

             The story "A & P" by John Updike is a tale of a young man who lets his desires and his anger get a little too far ahead of him and in the end winds up quitting his job. In a matter of a day, Updike goes from an immature boy with unrealistic ideas and fantasies, to a man who is about to realize how life altering the choices he makes can be. Because of a decision by the self-righteous manager to banish three scantily clad girls from the store, Sammy, in one grand gesture, resigns. Updike used Sammy to reject the ugliness of the A & P. But with humor and irony, Updike shows the dangers of idealism. Though his family is not present in the story, Sammy realizes he will have to account to them for his behavior. Also, the girls trigger an action that is irreversible, leaving Sammy with the painful knowledge of "how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.".
             First, Sammy interprets the customers as being old, dull and unable to relate to young people. The fist customer he comes across he describes as a "witch about fifty" and a "cash register watcher". He even notes that it makes her day to see him trip up. It is at this point that he begins to make it evident that he doesn't particularly care for the customers. In the fifth paragraph he goes on to describe the customers as "sheep" and "house slaves in pin curlers". While he describes the general look of shock and disapproval towards the group of young girls he so admires, he is making it evident of the worlds and decades between him and his customers. He describes them as being banal that even had dynamite been set off, so they would keep pushing their carts, muttering to themselves.
             Towards the end of the story when Sammy announces that he is quitting, he goes on to say that "a couple customers that had been heading for my slot begin to knock against each other, like scared pigs in a chute." While he sees himself as being a risk taker he sees the customers as afraid of confrontation, thereby widening the gap between them.

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