Analyzing And Interpreting A&P
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John UpdikeÐ²Ð‚™s Ð²Ð‚ÑšA&PÐ²Ð‚Ñœ is a humorous story that ends with quite a surprise. When the reader discovers, along with all the other employees, that Sammy resigns after the three girls had been told to leave, we may be surprised or not, based on how well we interpreted SammyÐ²Ð‚™s personality. Most readers, including myself, would not think Sammy would go to such great lengths as to quit his job, which the storyÐ²Ð‚™s final paragraphs explicate. This especially meant a lot to the manager, Lengel, because he had been friends with SammyÐ²Ð‚™s parents for years. Legnel knew the lengths his father went to get him this job and tells him before he leaves, Ð²Ð‚ÑšSammy, you donÐ²Ð‚™t want to do this to your Mom and DadÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (696). This last paragraph shows SammyÐ²Ð‚™s distinctive personality and will do what he feels is right.
Sammy seems to be the typical boy in that he can not help but examine the three girls walking into the store. This idea is shown first when,Ð²Ð‚ÑšI stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or notÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (692). He is too obsessed with the girls and is more worried about them rather than his job. Sammy interprets the Ð²Ð‚ÑšqueenÐ²Ð‚™sÐ²Ð‚Ñœ movements, which makes it very enjoyable for him to watch. Updike uses a great variety of adjectives when he describes the women with Ð²Ð‚Ñšlong white prima-donna legsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and by saying Ð²Ð‚Ñšhave been anything whiter than those shouldersÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (692-93).
Sammy gets into the physiological mindset of the girls when he states, Ð²Ð‚ÑšYou never know for sure how girlsÐ²Ð‚™ minds work (do you really think itÐ²Ð‚™s a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar?) but you got the ideaÐ²Ð‚¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (693). This is actually a distinct irony in order to keep his focus on his own mind, which in fact is the purpose of this story. The reader also becomes aware of UpdikeÐ²Ð‚™s sense of humor in the previous quote.
At the start of this story, Sammy is a youth learning about the life in a grocery store. Sammy looks up to Stokesie who is a twenty-two year old supporting a family of his own doing the same job that Sammy does. The only difference is that Stokesie has hopes of being a manager like Lengel some day. Stokesie seems to be just as juvenile as Sammy, with his Ð²Ð‚ÑšOh, Daddy, I feel so faintÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and even Sammy sees that, stating Ð²Ð‚Ñšas far as I can tell thatÐ²Ð‚™s the only differenceÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (693).
SammyÐ²Ð‚™s description of the A&P provides a setting that is very dull, and repetitive. UpdikeÐ²Ð‚™s use of the fluorescent lights in the story symbolizes that the girls are in a way Ð²Ð‚ÑšartificialÐ²Ð‚Ñœ because he tried to impress them by quitting his job but in fact they left the store before his walk off scene. Sammy was hoping that by resigning, all three girls would be surprised that someone actually tried to stand up for them. He eventually looked forward to becoming good friends with the girls.
Whatever respect the story creates for Sammy cannot be the result of his actions. There was not a compelling excuse for him to quit his job once Lengel told them to leave; he should not be proud of what he does either. Instead, he chose the path less traveled