The A & P
John Updike's A & P famous short story is very comical at first glance. It seems to be an upbeat story/film about a lusty teenager named Sammy who works for the A & P grocery store. But after analyzing Updike's story the message it conveys is much deeper than face value. The main character, Sammy, seems to be having a hard time conforming to following the same path as others. Within the closing of the movie he quits his job; He looks out in a daze contemplating did he make the right decision. Was he taking a stand for the right reason?
According to Doctor Randy Laist's review, for Sammy, working at the A & P was a test for policy before going out into the adult world. Mister Langle is the manager at the A & P who symbolizes the "herder", in the short story. Sammy refers to the shoppers as pigs, cows, and sheep (cattle) moving around the store in the same fashion. Stokesie is Sammy's twenty-two year old, married coworker. "Stokes" is also one of the cattle Sammy refers to. Stokes has two kids and hopes to be the manager of the A & P one day. Laist mentions that Updike's story symbolizes patriarchy (mainly run or orchestrated by men). Langle seeing the three women in bathing suits sent him into an uproar. Laist mentions, "Sammy made a pointless, yet ethical stand."
Dr. Randy Laist implies that the three women were the wake up call or reality check Sammy needed. Laist refers to the three women as witches for exerting male authority. He piggy-backs off of Sammy mentioning " ...if she'd been born at the right time they would have burned her over Salem."; Referring to the Salem witch trials that women are a symbol of sexuality, conformity, rebel and youth. The girls got scolded for not covering their midriffs and not wearing shoes. In my opinion this symbolizes the ladies getting penalized for not being uniformed as the rest of the A & P customers (or society). As the girls exited out of the store Sammy walked out of the A & P and watched...
Cited: Updike, John. "A & P." Backpack Literature: An Introduction to
Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy,
Dana Gioia. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson
Laist, Randy. "John Updike 's 'A & P. ' Online video clip.
YouTube. YouTube, 6 May 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.
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