After all, “they couldn’t help it” (79). Ready to check out, the girls unfortunately catch the eye of Sammy’s manager, Lengel, who also “teaches Sunday school” (80). When confronting the girls, Lengel states more than once that “this isn’t the beach” (80) and that the are to “come in here with your shoulders covered” (81) in their future visits to A&P. After seeing his manager publicly humiliate the girls and ringing up their purchase, Sammy hopes to become “their unsuspected hero” (81) by quitting his job. Although Lengel gives him the opportunity to change his mind, Sammy folds his apron and leaves it on the counter with the bow tie on top.
The Sheep in A&P The customers, commonly known as the sheep in John Updike's famous short story A&P emphasize the repetitive nature of teenage Sammy's job at this hole in the wall grocery store. The name “sheep” implies a very routine type of life for the customers, because sheep are known to be very routine animals. The town as a whole lies quite a complacent life, closed off from the world and missing opportunities that could open up each person in the town. The sheep drive Sammy to want something more in his life. He realizes if he stays in this dead beat town for the rest of his life, he may not have the marvelous future he always hoped for.
He thinks the customers are difficult, dumb, and common. However, these are simply the ordinary people who live in his town, the people who are just like his parents. But Sammy thinks he is different, he does not feel like these people. He feels superior to them and this attitude makes him believe that he does not belong in this little store in this little town. Sammy passes judgment on the customers for being dull and unaware: “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle…I bet you could set off dynamite in an A&P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists…” (457).
Ed. Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. New York: Bedford, 2009. 573-582. Liebman, Bonnie.
Our identity is basically an understanding of our own beliefs, values, attitudes, and feelings; it is easily affected by what goes on in our lives, whether those situations are good or bad. Every obstacle in our lives is a challenge that would teach us how to get back on our feet unscathed or at least still relatively whole. Mary Lawson conveyed how such obstacles could shape a person's identity through the characters of her novel, The Other Side of the Bridge. They were written to be as close as possible to real people hence, they also go through difficulties that change not only their future but the core of their being. Arthur, undoubtedly, is a character that has been heavily affected by different situations in life.
Women shopping at the A&P are not referred to as customers. Instead, they exist as “sheep pushing their carts down the aisle” (737). Though seemingly a flippant remark, his choice, of metaphor implies more. Categorizing the female shoppers as animals degrades them, suggesting they lack human intellect. Lacking the ability to think on their own, the “sheep” flock in one direction, follower bound to mundane, mindless tasks such as “pushing their carts down the aisle” (731).