John Updike's "A & P"

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John Updike's "A & P"

When one leaves the job while standing at the right path, then he is to be celebrated, and this is what befalls Sammy in the story by John Updike; A & P and who we celebrate for not putting his interests first and leaves the job for having clear self consciousness of morals and ethics.


At times, people are able to follow their own consciousness and act regardless of the consequences that may befall them. Such an act is quitting your own job when you feel that what you stand for is being violated by those people who are above you in ranking or your bosses in business. In the story that we will discuss, we can only celebrate the actions of heroic Sammy for standing for good ethics and standing by what he believes is right. We see him quitting his job not knowing what to do next or where his next meal would come from. This is because he is strongly convinced that his boss did not act well to the girls and the best way that was to make him realize of the mistakes was by quitting the job.

John Updike: A & P

In this story, the hero in the narrative as well as the narrator take a stand, and this helps in bringing in some hope for a better future. Particularly, the short story by John Updike, the main character or the hero rebels against the consumerism that was widely taking place in the society, and this as noted above makes some hope emerge for the common people. The story is an analysis of Sammy, a young man who comes of age, and starts with the disapproval of managerial display to the girls. Updike (17) quotes, “Girls, this isn’t the beach” as the words, which Lengel the manager said to the girls. Sammy does not approve this kind of gesture from the manager, and when the manager repeated his words by quoting, “That’s all right…but this isn’t the beach”. According to Sammy, this was not warranted at all and he prefers to leave the job rather than have the manager treat them like that.

The story concentrates on the quitting of Job of the character Sammy who opts to stand by what can be considered by the readers as ethical or moral. In doing this, he goes against his boss who mistreats the girls and whose character can be considered as the opposite of Sammy. The story is made more appetizing by the way; the narrator takes up the issue, and makes the whole story have a good character development. Actually, one of the most notable features in this story is the way Sammy is put by the narrator, and this is by the use of the first kind of narration. For example, Updike (8) quotes, “Darling…Hold me tight”, by this, we find the true voice of the narrator, or Sammy in this case, and by the use of the words, we can predict the kind of development that was happening. First person’s singular is employed extensively by what the characters say. For example, Updike (17) quotes, “That’s all right…but this isn’t the beach” and as these words were said by Lengel, we get the picture that he was not ready to compromise despite the arguments that had been put up. In this case, we get the analysis of this character as unreasonable and not social to people whom he interacts.

The story is a kind of show for the struggles that Sammy underwent in his way to grow up. In some instances, he is forced to make some choices to show what he stands for and this is on the confrontations that he takes with his manager as well as the girls. He decides to take actions despite not knowing what he will do in the next minutes or what his future holds for him. Updike (19) quotes, “my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter”, and in this, we tend to see that his actions may be unilateral, but he means what he wants. In this story as well, we see a different kind of people like Lengel who does not care about what happens to anyone he interacts. For example, Updike (21) quotes, that makes no difference”, and we can say that he is the opposite of what Sammy was in terms of character. He cares not about the future of the others while people as if Sammy takes care of the others very much and it does not matter whether they are putting their life in danger.


In this paper, we have looked at two major characters, with each of the characters representing a side of morals and ethics. Generally, Sammy in this story reflects the good morals and ethics in the society with his former boss being the unethical one in the society. Sammy does not find it fit to have the girls dismissed by the boss despite the fact that he is the one who was supposed to deal with the girls. While Sammy cares about the welfare of other people, Lengel his boss does not see a sense running this side and is very inconsiderate of the situations as far as he gets his way.

Works Cited

Updike, John. A & P: New York: The Pigeon Feathers Publishers, 1961.



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