A & P Summary

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The story “A & P” by John Updike is a tale of a young man who lets his desires and his anger get a little too far ahead of him and in the end winds up quitting his job. In a matter of a day, Updike goes from an immature boy with unrealistic ideas and fantasies, to a man who is about to realize how life altering the choices he makes can be. A decision by the self-righteous manager to banish three scantily clad girls from the store, Sammy, in one grand gesture, resigns. At first the customers looked very old and dull to Sammy and co-worker, Stoksie. Then, these three gorgeous girls in nothing but bathing suits walk in and Sammy’s world turns upside down. Sammy takes an appreciative interest in the physical attractiveness of these three girls, describing them in great detail. One, the slightly chubby one is wearing a two piece bathing suit, and who is the most attractive one and who Sammy refers to as “Queenie.” “With the straps pushed off, there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head except just her, this clear bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light. I mean, it was more than pretty.” (Updike 2) This is where the maturation in Sammy comes in. This story represents a coming-of-age for Sammy. Though it takes place over the period of a few minutes, it represents a much larger process of maturation. From the time the girls enter the grocery store, to the moment they leave; you can see changes in Sammy. At first, he sees only the physicality of the girls: how they look and what they are wearing, seem to be his only observations. As the story progresses, he notices the interactions between the girls, and he even determines the hierarchy of the small dynamic. He observes their actions and how they affect the other patrons of the business. Rather, how the other

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