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John Updike's "A & P"

            In John Updike's short story "A & P", the protagonist, Sammy, is an adolescent boy whose roots come from the conservative and conventional small town working class, who dreams of branching out to the more elaborate, flashy and non-conformist life that he presumes the girls in swim suits live. When Sammy hears Queenie talk, he "slides right down her voice into her living room. Her father and the other men were standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a big glass plate and they were all holding drinks the color of water with olives and sprigs of mint in them." (346) It's apparent that Sammy believes Queenie to be of a higher class than he, because when his "parents have someone over they get lemonade and if it's a real racy affair Schlitz in tall glasses with "They"ll do it every time" cartoons stenciled on." (346) When Sammy marked that Queenie and the other girls were "walking against the usual traffic" (345) and "it's one thing to have a girl down on the beach, and another thing in the cool of the A & P, under the florescent lights,"(345) it's evident that he believes the girls to have a lack of concern for the opinions of the "crummy" (347) run-of-the-mill inhabitants of the A & P. Throughout the story, we find that Sammy is growing disenchanted with his life from his constant references about the shoppers being like sheep and of his friend Stoksie's only plans for the future being that he will one day become the manager of the A & P, commenting that he and Stoksie are almost the same. Sammy's decision, made on blind impulse, to quit his job, was his way of trying to change his stagnant life, and begin a more individualistic life, although he realizes that it will be hard for him as he is now an adult and responsible for his own actions and his own future.
             Work Cited.
             Updike, John. "A & P." Literature and the Writing Process.

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