Books and Movies Reviews

A&P character analysis of sammy

In "A&P", John Updike tells the story of Sammy, an eighteen year old who wefirst encounter working the checkout line at the A&P, a small-town grocery north of Boston. As the story begins, three girls about Sammy's age walk into the store wearing bathing suits. While this may have passed largely unnoticed in many other settings, it creates quite a commotion inside the old-town A&P, a store modeled in the dour, small-town-USA fashion. These bathing suits reveal not only the girls' flesh, but also the rift between Sammy's generation and the establishment of this puritan country town. This becomes evident when, at the end of the story, Sammy walks out on the job.
It would be a common misconception, however, to think that this brazen act had much at all to do with these three girls. Rather, Updike gives many clues throughout the text that show that the depth of Sammy's malcontent had reached a critical mass long before these three girls walked through the door that summer afternoon, and a confrontation, both with the A&P and within himself, was imminent.
The stage for a major confrontation with the A&P was set early, as insights into the feelings that Sammy had toward the customers of the A&P are revealed. Of particular interest is the vivid detail in which Sammy describes "the cash-register-watcher", a character that you get the feeling that Sammy has encountered so many times in varied embodiments that he must have recognized this lady the moment he saw her in the aisle. "She's one of these cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty with rogue on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I know it made her day to trip me up." Upon rectifying this minor mishap, he further describes this wretched character and her response-" By the time I got her feathers smoothed and her goodies into a bag- she gives me a little snort in passing, if she'd have been born at the right time …

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