A & P By John Updike

1160 Words5 Pages
Wearing only bathing suits, three girls walk into a store, causing chaos and forever altering one young man’s life. While the customers of the store scorn the girls’ immodesty, a cashier, Sammy, becomes greatly affected by them, intensifying his longing for change. He admires the girls for their open rebellion against the society. The store manager confronts these girls, telling them to have covered shoulders upon their next entrance at the store. As Sammy observes the scene, he quits his job as a sign of being a part of “the rebellion” and in hopes of being a hero in the girls’ eyes. Reality sinks into Sammy when he misses the girls’ exit and regret fills him. What he thinks is noble and just becomes a changed,…show more content…
The society at that time sought consumerism, for it was important to them. As Sammy notices a person purchasing four cans of pineapple juice, he asks himself, “(what do these bums do with all that pineapple juice? I’ve often asked myself)” (Updike 361). Sammy does not see the importance of consumerism and values what the traditional society dislikes. In displaying his longing for change, Sammy even goes as far as to make fun of the society when he jokes to himself, “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...” (Updike 360). Consumerism was a hungry, jealous love that controlled the traditional people of that time. The store symbolized consumerism, which was a jewel in society’s mind of this time. The reference to sheep is a symbol of conformity, yet another picture of the desire for change. While Sammy observes the people in the store, he thinks to himself, “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle- the girls were walking against the usual traffic...” (Updike 360). As the story progresses, Sammy keeps on referring to the shoppers as “sheep”. The “sheep” are the conformed people who do not like change. In Sammy’s mind, these conformed people follow the traditional crowd, living the same way they have always lived. The society had been living with these chains of conformity for so long that change was foreign to its ears. Sheep like

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