“A&P” by John Updike
John Updike wrote the story entitled “A&P” in 1961. The title of the story is inspired by the physical setting of the text. Before its demise in 2015, “A&P” was a company that comprised various grocery stores. The story revolves around sexuality and integrates numerous sexual innuendos. Updike portrays the store’s checkout clerk as sexually active when he admires the three girls that enter “A&P”. In fact, Sammy is the checkout clerk and protagonist of the story. “A&P” fulfills some of the demands desired by the author. Updike wanted stories that; engage him within the first sentences, sharpen his knowledge of human actions in the middle, and give him completion in the end. This paper focuses on fulfilling those demands.
“A&P” is narrated in the first person thus it captures the readers’ attention within the first few sentences. The first person narrative ensures that readers understand the mind of the narrator. Also, it is intriguing to observe three girls approaching a grocery store clad in bathing suits. Such clothing is designed for the beach. As a result, it is evident that Updike’s story engages the readers within the first sentences. They also capture Sammy’s attention, and he vividly describes their appearance to the readers. At this point, the readers understand that Sammy is a sexually active young boy.
As the story continues, it is salient to observe the nature of human activities. Irrespective of his sexual attraction, Sammy shows respect to the three girls. Sammy sympathizes with the girls when McMahon begins to lust after the girls. He is an old man thus it was wrong for him to stare at the young girls in a sexual manner. The text clearly depicts that the actions of human beings are often dependent on their environment. Regardless of his age, the girls pique McMahon’s attention due to their skimpy dressing. Lengel, the manager of “A&P” reckons that the girls are indecently dressed. He informs them that the store’s policy does not allow them to dress in bathing suits. Consequently, it is noted that Lengel’s actions are also influenced by the environment rather than his opinion.
“A&P” succinctly gives Updike completion in the end. It is observed that the story ends when Sammy quits his job. He reckons that Lengel has unfairly humiliated the girls thus he quits. The text clearly portrays a completed statement in the last paragraph in the text.
“His face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he’d just had an injection of iron and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.”
Just like the three girls, this statement also renders Sammy a rebellious character. He does not adhere to societal expectations thus; he impulsively quits his job. In fact, Lengel informs Sammy that his parents would not be happy but, he is indifferent to it. The completed statement also infers the dire consequences that Sammy would face due to his wrong choice. As a matter of fact, the last line of the statement clearly shows that Sammy is not oblivious to the situation.
In summation, readers note that the story fulfills Updike’s demands. The paper has examined the significance of the first and middle parts of the story. Most importantly, it has delineated the complete statement present in Updike’s story. The first few sentences in “A&P” capture the readers’ attentions as anticipated by the author. The climax and middle events of the story enlighten the readers on human activities. Finally, the text employs a statement that leads to the completion of the story.