The Use Of Symbolism In John Updike's A & P

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Throughout the short story A&P, written by John Updike, the reader is given the challenge of determining the ages of the three girls that enter the supermarket who are barely dressed, wearing nothing but a swimsuit. One of the store workers, Sammy, shows interest in these girls and strives to be their “hero”. The ultimate question that is never answered in the story is: Are the girls just young and plain naive? Or are they older and aware of what they are doing? Using the symbols Updike has given throughout the story, I expect the girls to be young and naive. By his use of symbolism, Updike suggests that the line between youth versus adulthood is the main source of tension throughout his story. Even though Sammy’s mindset is childlike, he still tries to portray himself in an adult manner. The reader can observe throughout the story the way in which Sammy thinks to be immature and quick to judge. Having his concentration only on the girls, he made a mistake while ringing up a customer. Because he is so focused on how the girls are dressed and what they are up to, he has full descriptions of each girl and thinks he has them all figured out. He points out the leader and even names her “Queenie” while not giving the other two as much attention. The reader can see how Sammy sort of mocks some of the customers when he sees Lengel “checking the sheep through” (Updike 435). Sammy’s priority, which should only be ringing up customers, but happens to be seeing what the girls are up
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