Conformity and Individuality in a Small Town Essay

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Conformity and Individuality in a Small Town
John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania on March 18, 1932. His father was a high school math teacher who supported the entire family, including his grandparents on his mothers side. As a child, Updike wanted to become a cartoonist because of The New Yorker magazine. He wrote articles and poems and kept a journal. John was an exceptional student and received a full scholarship to Harvard University. At Harvard he majored in English and became the editor of the Harvard newspaper. Upon graduation in 1954, he wrote his first story, Friends from Philadelphia, and sent it to The New Yorker. This started his career and he became one of the great award winning authors of our time.
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Sammy observes the three barefoot bikini clad girls enter the store and walk around. The story proceeds to explain the reactions of the customers and employees in the grocery store to the nearly naked teenage girls. Sammy’s contempt for the customers is apparent as he calls them ‘sheep’ and ‘house slaves’ and, one in particular, a ‘witch.’ Sammy describes the appearance of each of the girls in great detail, much more than any of the other customers or employees. Lengel comes out of his managers’ office and tells the girls they are inappropriately dressed and embarrasses them in front of the other customers. Queenie tells Lengel that they are dressed decent and he tells them he doesn’t want to argue with them and says it’s store ‘policy’ for the customers to have their shoulders covered when they come into the A&P. Sammy feels sorry for the embarrassment Lengel causes the girls and, hoping to be the girls ‘hero,’ he quits. Sammy feels as if he is defending their honor by quitting, but they don’t even notice. He leaves the store and looks for them on the street, but they are no where to be found.
Repeated themes of sexuality, individuality, and conforming are apparent throughout the story. The sexuality is apparent when Sammy describes the chunky girls as having‘…a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of
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