Conflict in A&P

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Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Literature ・MLA ・1 Sources

Conflict is a significant literary device in works of literature that aids in the progression of a story's plot. When the story begins, the reader is introduced to a 19-year-old observant, opinionated, cynical, and hormone-driven character. Sammy, the story's heroine, serves as a cashier in a convenience shop. The dispute in A&P's story has greatly aided in the development of the characters and the story's theme. In the A&P series, there is an interpersonal tension that has proved to be important in the story. Conflict in the A&P is depicted from the beginning to the end and the typical conflict centers around the idea of societal conformity. Sammy is faced with the conflict of impressing the girls and thus decides to quit his job. The girls are also in conflict with the manager of the store who confronts and tells them to dress properly. Lengel tells the girls that “we want you to decently dress when you come in here” (Updike 21). Additionally, there is a conflict of Sammy against the old mindset of the society and the need to fit in the young generation.
The decision of Sammy to quit his job is perceived as being illogical, and impulsive and it represents his break from conformity. This comes from the realization that standing up for what a person believes in requires going against the societal norms that t in society. The conflict within himself makes him stand out for the girls who come to the store dressed in bathing suits. Sammy becomes appalled with Lengel demands on the Girls, and this makes him quit his job in his attempts to show his heroic actions. However, he, later on, realizes "how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter'' (Updike 37). Notably, Sammy chooses to quit his job and later on realizes he made a mistake and he has to face the consequences of his actions. His internal conflict climax when he tells the manager of the store that “I quit” (Updike 121). Even though the decision of Sammy to quit his work was to show an act of rebellion and be a hero, he later discovers that he stood up for what he believed in against the oppressing social thought. For example, Updike writes "But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture, it’s fatal not to go through with it' (122). This quote evidently implies that Sammy was ready to go on with what he believed was right. Sammy chooses not to accept the social constructions, and he follows a different route. External conflict in the story is evident between Sammy and Lengel who is the manager of the supermarkets. External conflict is also seen among Lengel and the girls where he wants the girls to dress according to the rules of the society. Examples of conflict depicted in the story include Sammy and his opposition of the mindset, lounge against the girls and conflict between Sammy and himself.
The conflict struggles within Sammy shape him and make him grow. The conflict has made the story interesting and enabled it to move from the beginning of the story and climax and thus indicating a turning point. Evidently, the conflict has enabled the main character to evolve and make choices that defectively lead to his transition and change. This has been a vital factor in the development of the plot. For example, the internal conflict that is evident in Sammy help to reveal his weaknesses and the way of his thinking. The conflict also shows the challenges this protagonist is facing in life and inform the reader of the factors that Sammy thinks is right.
The disagreement that is seen between Sammy and Lengel depict man versus man conflict. Also, there is man versus self-conflict which is evident from the internal conflict that Sammy has in the entire story. Sammy questions his future particular after encountering the girls who go against the rules of the society by dressing in bathing suits. Another conflict is man versus the society. For example, the girls pose a challenging question on the rules of the society and rebel by entering into the store dressed in a way that is not accepted in the society.
The conflict is important in the plot of the story as it has helped to give the dramatic action in the story. Dramatization has been effectively achieved through employing the conflict. It has also helped in developing and building on the characters particularly Sammy and thus drawing the reader into the story. Evidently, the A&P short story concerns the struggles of Sammy with social conformity, authority, and freedom. Sammy makes a momentum decision to quit his job in the A&P grocery store to appear as a hero and impress the girls. Notably, the conflict has given the story life and build the subject through informing the readers of the opposing forces. Besides, the conflict helped in adding suspense to the story and made the reader to become curious about the events happening in the story and develop the theme.
The characters in the A&P communicate to the reader that the fundamental problems of humans arise from generational differences existing in society. The young generation wants to keep pace with the changing world while the older generation wants to uphold the societal rules. These older rules tend to be oppressive to the young people and thus create conflicts between the old and the young generation as evident from the Updike’s story.

Work Cited

Updike John. A&P. The New Yorker. 1961

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