Analysis of John Updike's Stories: 'A&P' vs. 'Outage'
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In "Outage" and "A&P," John Updike attempts to explore different facets of suburban life through ordinary and common events. In "A&P," Updike explores how innocent ignorance influences a young cashier named Sammy and his views of suburbia. On the other hand, "Outage" explores the seething underbelly of suburbia and the events that occur when no one is looking, or in this case, when the lights go out. Through each work, Updike counters innocence with knowledge and rebellion against submission. In "A&P," Sammy is initially drawn to three girls, Queenie, Plaid, and Big Tall Goony Goony, perusing the grocery store and while he is drawn to the leader of the group, Queenie, he soon begins to note how they are a contrast of what middle-class suburbanites consider to be acceptable. Sammy notes,
You know, it's one thing to have a girl in a bathing suit down on the beach, where what with the glare nobody can look at each other much anyway, and another thing in the cool of the A & P, under the fluorescent lights, against all those stacked packages, with her feet paddling along naked over our checkerboard green-and-cream rubber-tile floor. ("A&P")
One of the things that is interesting about Sammy's observation is that the girls are judged harshly because of how they are perceived "under the fluorescent lights." Ironically, it can be argued that the general public's disapproval of the girls can be due to the "house-slaves in pin curlers" jealousies. The girls are representative of