Rebel Without a Clue in John Updike's A&P Essay

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Rebel Without a Clue in Updike’s A & P

Adults always stress that it is important to make a good first impression. That is what Sammy was trying to accomplish in John Updike’s "A & P." Although some people believe that Sammy is a hero for standing up for his beliefs when he quit, there is conclusive evidence that he quit in an attempt to impress a girl he was obviously attracted to, Queenie.

We know he is attracted to Queenie because he goes to great lengths to tell us what she looks like, what her mannerisms are, and the way that the other girls follow her. For example, he says, "She was the Queen. She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round" (1026). This simple quote shows that
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I mean, it was more than pretty" (1026). Someone who is attracted to someone else would usually notice something as striking as that. He continued with, "She held her head so high her neck, coming out of those white shoulders, looked kind of stretched, but I didn’t mind. The longer her neck was, the more of her there was" (1026). All of the above examples demonstrate how sexually interested Sammy is in Queenie, but this one is the clincher: "Still with that prim look she lifts a folded dollar bill out of the hollow at the center of her nubbled pink top. The jar went heavy in my hand" (1028).

Sammy uses Lengel’s reprimand to bring attention to himself. He was acting as a boy trying to defend his girlfriend. Sammy says, "The girls, and who’d blame them, are in a hurry to get out, so I say ‘I quit’ to Lengel quick enough for them to hear, hoping they’ll stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero." This is the most obvious attempt that Sammy makes to impress the girls. However, it doesn’t work. The girls leave before Sammy can even get outside. Sammy’s family says that that is the sad part of the story. Sammy also says, "and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter" (1030). Now, is this the sort of thing that someone would say after standing up for something they believe in? I should say not! Most people

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