John Updike's "A & P"

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John Updike “A & P”

We were asked in class to write a short paper after being asked the question, “What is the most intriguing or interesting piece we have read, and why?” My response to this question was John Updike’s “A & P”. “A & P” was not the best or even the most interesting piece that I have read. However, out of all of the stories that I have read for this class, “A & P” left me with the most questions. Some of the questions that I asked myself after reading this story were, “What did Updike want me to get from this story?” The second question I asked myself was, “Was there any symbolism or foreshadowing in the extreme amount of detail that Updike used in this story?” The last question that I wanted to answer was, “Is that it?” Did John Updike really write a story about dress code of a supermarket? Or, did he write this story about the moral dilemma a young clerk faces when he believes his boss was rude to three underdressed girls? John Updike’s “A & P” was first published in 1962. This story took place in a small grocery store. The main character, Sammy, is a young clerk. He is ringing up a lady whom he describes as a “witch”, when three young ladies enter the store wearing nothing but bathing suits. Updike uses great detail in describing the three girls. The first one that he noticed was described as “a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit…” The second girl was described as “a tall one, with black hair that hadn’t quite frizzed right, and one of these sunburns right across under the eyes”. The third girl was given the name of “Queenie” by the main character, Sammy. Queenie was described as the leader of the group. She had “long white prima-donna legs. She came down a little hard on her heels, as if she didn’t walk in her bare…...

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A & P Summary

...John Updike's short story "A&P" is about a teenager who has to make a serious decision. The story is set in an A&P supermarket in a town north of Boston, probably about the year 1960. As the plot unfolds, Sammy changes from being a thoughtless and sexist boy to being a young man who can make a decision, even though it might hurt him. Sammy tells us he is nineteen years old. He is a check-out clerk in the local A&P, where the boss, Lengel, is a friend of Sammy's parents. Sammy does not seem to like his job very much. He calls one of his customers a "witch" and says the other customers are "houseslaves" and "sheep." He himself comes from a middle-class family. When they have a party, he says, they serve "lemonade and if it's a real racy affair Schlitz in tall glasses with 'They'll Do It Every Time' cartoons stencilled on" (15). In addition, Sammy is sexist. He gives long, loving descriptions of the girls who cause all the trouble, and he thinks at first that girls may not even have minds, asking, "do you really think it's a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar?" (13) However, he does change as the plot goes on. The plot of the story deals with three girls who come into the store dressed only in bathing suits. They make their entrance in the very first sentence, and they complicate Sammy's life. At first, Sammy, his older friend Stokesie, and McMahon the butcher all look at the girls lustfully. But of them all, only Sammy......

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A&P by John Upike

...A&P by john updike In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I'm in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don't see them until they're over by the bread. The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not. I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell. She's one of these cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I knowit made her day to trip me up. She'd been watching cash registers forty years and probably never seen a mistake before. By the time I got her feathers smoothed and her goodies into a bag -- she gives me alittle snort in passing, if she'd been born at the right time they would have burned her over in Salem -- by the time I get her on her way the girls had circled around the bread and were coming back, without a pushcart, back my way along the counters, in the aisle between the check-outs and the Special bins. They didn't even have shoes on. There was this chunky one, with the two-piece -- it was bright green and the seams on the bra were still sharp and her belly was still pretty pale so I guessed she just got it (the suit) -- there was this one, with one of...

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Conflict and Change in John Updike’s “a&P”

...Critical Essay Jason Williams May 15, 2010 Eng 2510: Contemporary Literature Conflict and Change in John Updike’s “A&P” All of the events in John Updike’s short story “A&P” take place in a small town grocery store north of Boston, where Sammy, the main character, works as cashier. Sammy is nineteen, a late adolescent boy on the verge of adulthood. His fellow cashier, Stokesie, is twenty-two, married, with two young children. The store is managed by a much older man named Lengel, a friend of Sammy’s parents. The other characters include a customer at Sammy’s checkout slot and three teenage girls in bathing suits. It is an altercation in the aisles of the store between Lengel, the manager, and the three girls that forces Sammy to face his inner conflict and make a life changing decision. Updike implies rather than spells out Sammy’s conflict. Sammy is nineteen, almost a man, but as yet without a man’s responsibilities. If Sammy stays in town, we can easily imagine he will soon be in the same situation as Stokesie, who has wife and two children to take care of. Sammy and Stokesie have good jobs, probably among the best the small town has to offer. If Stokesie were to quit his job, he would be abdicating his responsibilities and letting his family down. In the view of the town, such an action would probably be considered madness. For him, the chance to make a radical change in his life’s course has probably passed. Sammy, on the other hand, has a......

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...Perez 1         A&P The short story A&P by John Updike is about three teenage girls who walk into an A&P grocery store only wearing bathing suits. The story is narrated by a young man named Sammy. Sammy is working the checkout line when the three girls walk in. Sammy gives a description of each girl but shows much interest in the in the most attractive girl and he names her “Queenie” because she appears to be the leader of the three. A major themes that is  shown in the short story is the objectifying of women. Sammy throughout the story objectifies these girls by comparing parts of their bodies to food. “She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and sweet broad soft looking can” (348). He is clearly only looking at her butt and compares it to a can. He focuses only on her butt and seems to like from the rest of her. “... and the plump one in plaid, that i liked better from the back­ a really sweet can­ pipes up” (352). Sammy makes it obvious that he only cares and sees the girls butt. So he objectifies her by the looks of her butt. Sammy is also physically attracted to the most attractive girl. “... she lifts a folded dollar bill out of the hollow at the center of her nubbled pink top. The jar went heavy in my hands” (351). The fact that the jar went heavy in his hands is because he got concentrated on her breasts and was only thinking about them. Sammy is only thinking and staring at her breasts and he objectifies her......

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Critical Essay on a&P

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A&P Analisys

... John Updike’s “A&P” as a provocative tale of social perception In order to understand the two stories on John Updike’s “A&P”, the characters have to hold the weight of being the most important theme in the short story. The first set of characters consists of Sammy, the Girls, and Lengel who all dictate the first short story from Sammy’s point of view. The second of the two tales Updike pens about in this short, is that of where he makes us question what being “decent” by society’s current standards means, by putting an emphasis on perception and almost spoon-feeding us readers to pick up on what he’s trying to imply by using Sammy to illustrate it all. The paper-thin storyline consisting of what Sammy is going through by narrating and the other, which is the main story being Sammy and the girls representing freedom and non-conformity from a neutral point of view versus what Lengel, the shoppers, and the storefront itself represent as being the socially correct status quo and policy we hold as normal living in society. In this story the establishment that is the A&P itself, is portrayed as routine and monotonous as a market in the middle of town can possibly be. Updike made it so on purpose, to give us a neutral setting that synonymous with our reality and what we perceive as normal behavior in society. The A&P is acceptable as a run-of-the-mill chain market, this character represents the status quo of a 1st world society where one is judged instantly for......

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Reader-Response to John Updike’s “a&P”

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Leading Change John P Kotter

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Updike's a&P

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Conflict and Change in John Updike’s “a&P

...All of the events in John Updike’s short story “A&P” take place in a small town grocery store north of Boston, where Sammy, the main character, works as cashier. Sammy is nineteen, a late adolescent boy on the verge of adulthood. His fellow cashier, Stokesie, is twenty-two, married, with two young children. The store is managed by a much older man named Lengel, a friend of Sammy’s parents. The other characters include a customer at Sammy’s checkout slot and three teenage girls in bathing suits. It is an altercation in the aisles of the store between Lengel, the manager, and the three girls that forces Sammy to face his inner conflict and make a life changing decision. Updike implies rather than spells out Sammy’s conflict. Sammy is nineteen, almost a man, but as yet without a man’s responsibilities. If Sammy stays in town, we can easily imagine he will soon be in the same situation as Stokesie, who has wife and two children to take care of. Sammy and Stokesie have good jobs, probably among the best the small town has to offer. If Stokesie were to quit his job, he would be abdicating his responsibilities and letting his family down. In the view of the town, such an action would probably be considered madness. For him, the chance to make a radical change in his life’s course has probably passed. Sammy, on the other hand, has a window of opportunity, a short period between youth and adulthood, during which, if he has the courage and the will, he can choose......

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John Upike "A&P"

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A&P by John Updike

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