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A&p by John Updike

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It is the little details that are vital to the creation of a story. In John Updike’s story “A&P” it begins with Sammy, a nineteen-year-old boy working the checkout line at an A&P in a small New England town when three teenage girls, wearing only their bathing suits, walk into the grocery store. Sammy, a young man working the checkout line, watches them closely. He appraises their looks and notes even minute details about the way they carry themselves. John Updike's "A&P" is a story about consequences. Each character in the story makes a choice that results in positive and negative consequences which affects them throughout.

In “A&P”, Updike uses Sammy's rebellious intentions to develop the idea that nobody is as important as they believe they are. The irony of the consequences in Sammy's quitting and the expendability of Sammy himself is to show the overall unimportance of a single action in the long run. "A&P" is narrated by Sammy which greatly affects the plot and theme of the story because Sammy is a biased narrator who is infatuated with the girls. The story is told in first person omniscient point of view in which the narrator is a character in the story, but also knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other characters. Sammy says, “I forgot to say he thinks he's going to be manager some sunny day, maybe in 1990 when it's called the Great Alexandrov and Petrooshki Tea Company or something” (Updike 748). Sammy says this in order to show that Stokesie is not as important as he thinks he is.

Updike uses vivid detail in the creation and descriptions of his characters. One of the things Sammy comes to understand during the course of “A&P” is how close he is to being incorporated into the structure known as A&P. At the beginning of the story, Sammy is quite clear that he is unlike the “sheep” roaming about the aisles of the store. Sammy is equally confident that he is neither a chump like Stokesie, who wants to climb the management ladder, nor a flunky like Lengel, who haggles over cabbages and hides behind his office door all day. All of Sammy’s self-confidence is shaken by the three girls who enter the store in their bathing suits, and especially by the beautiful leader of the group. From the start, Updike emphasizes the disruptive reaction the girls have on the store. The girls immediately cause Sammy to make an error at his register, which causes Sammy to say, “I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not. I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell” (Updike 747). Sammy hardly ever makes mistakes. The girls move against the usual traffic flow of the store, disturbing the other shoppers, and of course they completely distract all the male employees. Although Sammy’s attention is caught by the display the girls make, their casual defiance affects Sammy more strongly. Sammy is used to being an observer of the rules, whereas Queenie and her friends simply ignore those rules. When Queenie defends herself against Lengel by insisting they are decent, she is only trying to get out of an embarrassing situation. Sammy, however, decides that she is simply

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