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A & P Youth Rebillion 1960s

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John Updike And 1960s

In a Five-page short story John Updike attempts to tell the story of a decade. In the story A & P, John Updike illustrates the two sides of the 1960s, one side being rebellious youth and the other side being the rigid establishment of the elders, further in the story Updike shows the clash between the two sides. Sammy and the three young girls are certainly a representation of the youth, while Lengal, the much older store manager has to be strong elder sides. In the story we see the clash between them is the same as the battle between these two sides in the 60s. Lets start with the young ones.

The characters of Sammy and the three girls are symbolic of the rebellious youth in he 1960’s.Youth is significant in this story. Sammy is only 19 years old, and the girls are younger than he. The three girls walk in wearing very scandalous clothing. The choice the girls make is to walk into an A & P with nothing on but their bathing suits this is a conscious decision, this is not by mistake. They are young, but they are also sexual beings, proud of who they are and what they have. They are aware of Sammy watching them, and they are half self-conscious and half exhilarated by his attention. This shows that these young people may lack the ability to vote but they still have the choices in what do to and what rules to follows. These decisions based on their choices often go against strong force of the generation before them. The biggest reaction to this powerful rebellion is the reaction from the older people in the store.

Lengel, the store manager and the other shoppers and their responses are the representation of the elders and the system of the 1960s. Their reaction to what these three girls are wearing is classic and easy to picture. Sammy describes it "I bet you could set off dynamite in an A & P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering 'Let me see, there was a third thing, began with A, asparagus, no, ah, yes, applesauce!' or whatever it is they do mutter."(782, Updike). Sammy also knows that no matter what happens, these shoppers will not visibly react. They just want to get along, follow the cart in front of them up and down the aisles without incident. If dynamite were to go off, they would ignore it, go about their business as usual. It would have nothing to do with them. They want only to get their shopping done and get home. Where they can be away from these changes and stuck with themselves. These are the people who have all the rights like voting and drinking but also have grown up with these times and don’t want change. They try their best to ignore the change by not hear the voice or not looking at the girls and what they stand for.

Lengel like the three girls makes a choice. He is the manager, the person charged with enforcing policy, and so he chooses to poke fun go on to embarrassing the three girls. They are checking out when he sees them, so he could easily let them go. This point is crucial because they are almost done and out of the store but Lengel does not let them go but he feels deeply his responsible. Managers, of large and small institutions alike, are there, in large part, to make sure that the social codes are enforced within that institution. An example of this would be the famous “ No shirt, No shoes, No service.” That even though it could be seen as just an announcement to potential customers. It really is a divide, where only young people would be the ones to come in with no shirt or no shoes so it’s a shot at them with out a doubt.

The clash of Sammy and Lengel is representational the battle between rebellious youth and rigid elders of the 1960s. He brushes aside their argument that they aren't "doing any real shopping,"(784, Updike) but merely

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