John Updike's A&P
Length: 906 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
John Updike's short story, "A&P" is fictional in a sense that it has a common pattern that leads the reader through a series of events. These events began when three young ladies in bathing suits walk in A&P, and catch the eye of a young man named, Sammy. He seems to favor the chunkier girl of the three that walk in to the store.
As the story continues, Sammy curiously watches the provocative young ladies as they stroll through the store looking for groceries. In this fictional story, Sammy describes all three noticeable ladies, the main girl, "Queenie" he describes her as the leader of the two other girls. The second young lady he described was the chunky one; he fully described the chunky girl from head to toe, because Sammy had more descriptive words regarding her appearance. The third girl was the taller of the two. She was not as striking as the other two young ladies. The girls were barefoot and wore bathing suits, which is why they caught Sammy's attention. The reason being not because of the bathing suits they were wearing, but the way they strolled down the isles with confidence as they walked through the store. These young ladies were, "The kind of girls that other girls think are "Striking" and "Attractive." (48) Updike wants to let the reader know these girls wanted attention and only attention; by the way he described what they were wearing and how they flaunted themselves.
The third event happens when the girls approach Sammy's checkout line. They get to the line with the item from the store and placed it heavily in his hand. While he was ringing up the item, he noticed she was not wearing a ring or bracelet. He thought to
himself, "Not a ring or a bracelet, bare as God made them, and I wonder where the money is coming from." Updike is luring the reader to believe that the girl doesn't have a significant other to pay for her merchandise.
The third event in this fictional narrative is the argument that Queenie and the manager, Lengel The feud concluded Lengel upset about the way the girls are dressed, and that they should come into the store next time decent, But Queenie begged to differ, she says she is dressed decent, Lengel says," Girls, I don't want to argue with you, after this come in here with your shoulders covered.
It's our policy."(51) During the arguing, customers started showing up, watching the argument take place at the register. In this event Updike made it known how embarrassed the girls were, he described Queenie as furious and nervous, it wasn't just Queenie that was embarrassed, the other two were also blushing with embarrassment.
After the girls left, which now leads us to the depressing part of the story, when Sammy quits his job, hoping the girls would see his courageous deed. Unfortunately, they were not able to see him quit his job, because they walked out furiously. Sammy told Lengel, he didn't have to embarrass the girls in that manner, and Lengel responded, "It was they who were embarrassing us." (52) It was not the girl's intention to embarrass the store. They were just buying groceries; they wanted to be in and out of the store. Sammy realized that the girls did not mean any harm, so he stood up for them. Lengel argued that they were embarrassing the store and the employees. Sammy stuck to his beliefs, that the young ladies were actually buying groceries and not looking for attention. So, he left his apron and bow tie on the register and walked out of the store proudly
without any regrets. Updike really elaborated on how Sammy quit his job by describing his actions clearly while Sammy and Lengel were talking.
Updike's story clearly showed all series of events from the time Sammy saw the girls, until the end, when Sammy quit his job. Updike elaborated enough on Sammy quitting his job, for example, he described how Sammy felt when Lengel embarrassed the girls in front of the customers, and how he reacted to the inappropriate approach. He also elaborated on what the girls were wearing, and how confident they were in themselves for showing up in bathing suits in a public place, for example, at the beginning of the story, Updike described what each girl was wearing, what color the bathing suits were, and what their facial features were, especially when he described the chunky girl, because Sammy favored her the most. Updike proved that this narrative was fiction, by describing the place and characters in detail.