28 March 2012
A & P: An Analysis of the Character “Sammy”
As people age, maturity and wisdom is gained through every experience. From the time a child turns eighteen and becomes an adult, they are required to deal with the realities of the real world and learn how to handle its responsibilities. In John Updike’s short story “A&P” the protagonist Sammy is a young man in 1961 New England who works in the town’s local grocery store. In a matter of a day, Updike goes from an immature boy with unrealistic ideas and fantasies, to a man who is about to realize how life altering the choices he makes can be. Sammy realizes that life isn’t always ...view middle of the document...
Rather, how the other people view the girl's actions. His thought process is maturing and he starts to see things as an adult might see them, in some ways preparing him for the results of the decision that he will soon make.
From the beginning of the story, it is clear that Sammy in no way likes his job, nor is he fond of the customers and people he is surrounded by each day. To Sammy, they are nothing more than “sheep” going through the motions of life. “I bet you could set off dynamite in an A&P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering. Let me see, there was a third thing, began with A, asparagus, no, ah, yes, applesauce!’ or whatever it was they do mutter” (Updike 133). He views them negatively; to him they are boring and useless, living mundane and unimportant lives and it's obvious through Sammy's portrayal of them that he doesn't want to ever become one of them, nor does he want to be around them any longer. Besides Sammy, it seems that the other workers at A&P feel the same way the about the job being boring as he does, simply by the way they react to the arrival of the three unique teenage girls. Granted the only people working in the store are men, they still find the arrival of the girls to be extremely exciting and an event worth waiting for. “The store’s pretty empty, it being Thursday afternoon, so there was nothing much to do except lean on the register and wait for the girls show up again” (Updike 133). They take pleasure in the visit from the girls, and when they do arrive, Sammy makes it clear that he is not the only one captivated by them; McMahon at the meat counter is seen “sizing up their joints” (Updike 134) and Stokesie expresses a constant fixation with the girls as well, which he shares with Sammy the first time they come into the store. It also becomes clear that Sammy wants to know more about them through his fixation with them, which may add to the reason he wanted to quit; he hoped to captivate their attention and gain their praise.