John Updike’s A&P

High School ・English ・MLA ・1 Sources

The short narrative of A&P talks of a teenager, Sammy, who makes a solemn choice. The setting of the plot is in the A&P store in the North of Boston in 1960. As the story unravels, Sammy transforms from being a sexist and thoughtless boy to a younger man who stands for himself and makes his decisions even when they have negative consequences. In Updike’s A&P, the author develops a special theme of maturation through his main character Sammy. He exemplifies that Sammy’s childishness is due to his and judgmental attitude.

Firstly, Updike portrays Sammy as a judgmental being closer to his family, clients, and co-workers. He regularly referred his customers as “sheep pushing their carts down the aisle,” (Updike 824) implying they are stupid as they thoughtlessly follow one another in the store. Also, when Sammy says the attitude of his co-workers towards the girls in bikini, he appears to condemn them, although he does the same. For instance, when he watches McMahon touch his mouth and size up his joints after looking at the girls, he starts to sympathize with the girls (Updike 825).

Finally, Sammy judges Queenie for being of high social status just because of her voice. He envisions a cocktail event at Queenie’s home and proposing “men in ice-cream coats and bow ties” with drinks “the color of water with olives and sprigs of mint” (Updike 826). Sammy later related the party scene by imaging people taking malt liquor instead of martinis. The immaturity portrayed by Sammy makes him make impulsive judgments about all people he meets without trying to know them well through their personality.

Sammy is evidently immature; through his judgmental attitude and actions in A&P. He judges people based on their outside impression, and he never admits that he is wrong. It is because his immaturity that he decides to quit his job, an impulsive act that leads to his distress.

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Work Cited

Updike, John. A & P: Lust in the Aisles. Minneapolis: Redpath Press, 1986.



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