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“A&P” is a short story whose author is John Updike. This is one of most popular stories by Updike and it was first published in 1961. This story is ironic in its nature and it uses first person narrator whereby Sammy, one of the characters and probably the main one, is used as the narrator. It is a story that is not easy to understand and therefore it requires maximum concentration for one to comprehend it. Sammy is 19 and he works as a clerk in a grocery. One day when Sammy is working three girls wearing bathing suits enter into the A&P supermarket. Sammy admires the girls and they end up interrupting his work. Sammy, an innocent guy, thinking of been a better man and capable of running his own family well ends up deciding to stop working in the A&P supermarket as clerk and he then follows the girls who are ill-mannered because of their dressing. Immaturity is affecting Sammy and the girls who are not innocent are luring him and leading him to quick and wrong decision making. The aim of this essay shall be looking at the view of the author and how he brings out his views to suit the readers and make it have a flow (Kelly, 67).
Sammy is the main character in this story and he creates the plot and brings out some themes in the story like symbolism. His character traits aid the reader in comprehending the story. Sammy is an innocent teenager, he examines the three girls openly and even acknowledges their beauty without hiding any of his feelings .As they enter the grocery, his eyes are glued on them. He does not see anything wrong with them but Lengel is much concerned and he condemns them. For instance he says, “we want you decently dressed when you come in here."Sammy does not even bother if there is anyone who is in notice of what he is doing and he is not in belief when a customer protests that he or she has rang twice with no response coming. Sammy is very keen and that is why he can describe all the girls. Sammy is easily lured by the girls and he cannot even concentrate with his work. Sammy ends up following the girls and this simply implies that he has to quite the job because he goes without alerting any of the other workers (Kelly, 70).
The author uses Sammy to contrast maturity and immaturity. He foresees Sammy as immature man although the author tries to explain this to have probably been caused by his age. Sammy is contrasted with his fellow worker Stokesie, who is twenty two and behaves maturely and responsibility. Stokesie is Sammy’s role model as he runs his own family and yet he is working in the same place with Sammy who even has nothing to talk about in family matters since he is a real bachelor. Contrast has therefore been used as style to differentiate between maturity and immaturity. Stokesie is a responsible and mature man and Sammy is an immature teenager although he has the desire to be like Stokesie. The two characters are used to bring out the theme of comparison and contrast which is one of the main themes and creates the plot of the story (Kelly 68).
Lengel, the manager of the local A&P grocery, is used as an advisor to Sammy. Lengel has known Sammy’s parents for a long time and he advises him not to quit the job for it will not be easy to survive out without a job. Legel is very caring and he even tries to chase the girls away when he realizes they are taking Sammy’s interest. Lengel says to the girls,” girls, I don’t want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered. It is our policy.”Sammy is neglectful as he does not bother of Legel’s advice and he follows the girls. Sammy does not belief holding the position of a manager like Legel who was once in his position. He says that he will not see any difference whether working with the A&P or out there jobless. With this fake and immature thinking Sammy ends up following the girls. The author uses Sammy to sum up the risks and outcomes of quick decision making which is advocated to by his stage, adolescence. Sammy shows immaturity in decision making and that is why he ends up making the wrong decision of leaving the job (Kelly 71).
The three girls are not innocent. Just like Sammy the girls are immature and they prove their irresponsibility. Moving around wearing bathing suits and bear-legged was not the right thing to do according to the mature people although according to Sammy it had no impact. Sammy does not notice any wrong in their dressing and he evens takes it as a good opportunity to explore their beauty. Criticism as a theme is used in the story to rebuke and condemn the girls’ behavior. Lengel condemns the girls’ behavior saying,” We want you decently dressed when you come in here." Lengel shows a sense of maturity by condemning the girl’s bad behavior while contrarily; Sammy shows big immaturity by thinking that the girls are alright and perfectly dressed. The girls therefore can just be said to be ill-mannered due to their dressing and Sammy is immature due to his wrong and immature judgment of the girls (Kelly 66).
Sammy is a very keen observant. He sees how Lengel has got into the manager’s position. He finds that Lengel was once holding his position in the supermarket. Unfortunately, Sammy does not see this as a challenge for him to work harder but just despises it and uses it as one of the reasons to quit the job. Sammy is also in a position to see how well Stokesie is running his family and yet they are working together. Sammy is also keen in analyzing the girls’ beauty and behavior although this ends up making quit the job (Kelly 72).
The plot of the story is directed by Sammy’s actions which are the point of view in the story. All that is been discussed is rotating around the character of Sammy. For instance he is been compared to his fellow workers due to his immaturity. He helps to build up the theme of comparison and contrast. Other themes are also created by the aid of Sammy’s character traits. He is the major character and he plays a great role in developing and building up other characters like the three girls whom he describes them in depth. He also builds other characters like Lengel who are mature and contrasting to Sammy’s behavior. The main view in the story is therefore maturity and immaturity which also build up other themes like contrast and comparison (Kelly 73).
Sammy is a young man who is not optimistic. He ends up quitting his job as a clerk due to girls who come around dressed in bathing suits. Sammy is very immature and takes the risk of leaving the job due to ideas that may never seem to bear any fruits. Lengel, been very caring, advises Sammy not to quit the job although Sammy gives a deaf ear to the words. The girl’s are not innocent and responsible and they lure Sammy making him quit his job. It is through Sammy’s behavior and character traits that we are able to comprehend the story. Sammy’s actions from the moment the girls enter the grocery bring out the real meaning of the story. Lengel and Sammy are contrasted and they bring out the theme of comparison and contrast.