Character Analysis A & P

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A&P: Sammy
A&P is a comic short story by author John Updike, set in first person narration by a sales clerk at an A&P store named Sammy. Sammy notices three girls walk into his store in only their swimsuits, which is a fearless act to be made in the time that the story was set. The head of the pack, “Queenie”, leads the other two girls through the aisles, and her confidence doubles the sum of her friends’. She seems to be guiding them through a life lesson, teaching them to keep their heads high, reminding them of the power that their sexuality has. Sammy notices minute details about each of the girls, taking in their tan lines and the seams of their swimsuits. He is particularly interested in Queenie, nearly obsessive over her overflowing
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He is taken by Queenie’s defiance, assessing himself and his own life as he tracks her every move throughout the store. His comparison towards his married coworker, Stokesie, indicates that though they share many similarities, Sammy feels that his own future is brighter and more ambiguous. He is single, slightly younger, and much more curious about the world outside of A&P. This theme of rebellion is seen quite early in the story, and maintains a steady pace. Conformity has been a major topic of discussion for many years, especially in young people and women. Their daring attitudes almost cause others to sting with jealousy and disgust, as older folks look them up and down and reminisce about the good old days, when men didn’t have to fear for their sexual impulses inside of a grocery store. As long as the shoulders are covered, the men are protected, as are their families. Given that the story was set prior to the 1990’s, the ladies’ shocking display of insubordination attracts an intense amount of attention.
Instead of negatively judging the girls like his manager, Sammy is inspired by them. He beings to reflect upon himself, and as the story closes, he takes this opportunity to close one door, in hopes of opening another. Sammy believes in his own future outside of being a sales clerk, regardless of any consequences that his quitting will
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On one hand, Sammy opens opportunities for himself to pursue bigger dreams than working at a cash register. His personality indicates that his interest in other options may actually land him in a better position than before, although the disappointment of not catching Queenie’s eye as he follows her lead of rebellion could discourage him, along with protests from his family. The strongest suggestion in this aspect of the story is that he never made his family proud, as he recounts his family calling his decision fueled by his infatuation with Queenie as “the sad part of the story”. Although, he doesn’t see it to be any amount of sad at all, this also hints that Sammy ends up content with his choice. Sammy’s decision to quit is motivated by the desire to align his own world with Queenie’s, and moves from obeying social norms to embracing his youth and independence. Sammy is held back by his family’s expectations of him, as many young people are through their most detrimental years. The conflict between outside opinions and our own feelings are another strong theme throughout the

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