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A & P

2 Pages 487 Words

“A & P”
Life’s hardest lessons are sometimes learned too little, too late. In the short story “A & P”, by John Updike, the main character, Sammy, is a nineteen year-old checker at a local grocery store in a small town just north of Boston. In a matter of a day, he 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.
Updike does an excellent job in the portrayal of his main character, Sammy, as a typical teen-age boy working to help out his family. He leads his readers to believe that the only people who enter the store are old women or women with six children. Sammy refers to these women as sheep. His disdain comes through when the three young females, clad only in bathing suits, come into the store, throwing his attention off, while he is cashing out a woman of about fifty. His thoughts about the woman being burned in Salem, had she been born in an earlier time, reveals the resentment he feels towards his job.
Sammy names the object of his adoration, Queenie, since he has determined that she is the leader of the three. He is captivated by Queenie from her oaky hair and prim face down to her feet paddling along naked. She has unknowingly put Sammy into a hypnotic state. Updike gives his readers the impression that Sammy has lived in isolation up until this one Thursday afternoon.
The story takes a dramatic turn when Queenie and her followers come to Sammy’s checkout counter with a jar of Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks. Lengel, manager of the A & P, notices the scantily clad females and says, “Girls, this isn’t the beach.” He may be a dreary man but, he is all about policy. As Queenie responds with, “My mother asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks”, the sound of her voice causes Sammy to picture a fanciful life quite different from his own. He feels that she is above him and that she sho...

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