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A & P by John Updyke Overview

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A&P by John Updike is an interesting story about Sammy, a young man on the cusp of adulthood and his experience one day, on the job at the A&P super market. The market is a great setting to show how the main character views the world and his reaction to the older characters in the story.

The tale begins with Sammy working as a cashier one slow summer afternoon when three bikini clad beauties stroll in and capture his attention. Sammy feels, at his young age, that he is quite astute in the ways of women and takes great pleasure in noting all the physical differences of the three lovely ladies. Sammy thinks that it's cool that these girls have the audacity to come into the store in their beach attire and quickly points out how the older shoppers seem offended and sheepish when they notice the girls. Sammy even finds it quite funny that the shoppers are put in an uncomfortable position when first noticing the girls. The reader quickly realizes that Sammy feels a big disconnect between his youthful ideals and the older patrons of the store.

The story quickly comes to a head when the girls finish their shopping and find themselves at Sammy's checkout line. While Sammy is ringing up the girl's purchase, the store manager, an older fellow with little tolerance for inappropriateness, quickly asks the girls to mind their manners and dress more fittingly the next time they shop at his store. This simple act is enough to cause Sammy to quit his job and storm after the girls; just to make the point that he doesn't agree with the prudish rules of society and older adults.

The reader also gets the feeling that this act of defiance is Sammy's one last opportunity to be a rebellious youth before submitting to the responsibilities of adulthood and "how hard the world will be hereafter".



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