Character Analysis of Sammy in John Updike's 'A&P'

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Sammy: Campbell's heroic journey transposed into suburban New England On the surface, the hero of John Updike's much-anthologized short story "A&P" does not seem like a hero on the level of an Odysseus or a Hercules. Sammy is a cashier at a local grocery store. However, when three girls wearing bathing suits enter the A&P, Sammy begins to experience a call to action. For the first time in his life, he takes a stand when he feels as if the pretty girls are being treated with a lack of respect. Sammy feels the first stirrings of rebellion within him, as he chafes against the constraints of his life. Campbell divides the three parts of the hero's quest into a circular journey of departure, initiation, and return. Over the course of "A&P" Sammy makes his 'departure' into the world of the hero. The first stage of the heroic quest of 'departure' begins with the hero's call to adventure. During this first stage, the person is poised at "the point in a person's life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not" ("Hero's Journey: Summary of Steps," MCLI, 1999). This occurs when Sammy sees the three girls walk into the grocery store. His life and his perceptions of his world as a 'local' in a small seaside town will never be the same, nor will his perceptions of himself as a sexual being. At the beginning of the story, Sammy is a shy, self-conscious cashier who is far more retiring than his fellow employee Stokesie. By the end of
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