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Essay on Personality in John Updike's A&P

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Character can be defined as the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another.  Authors usually embrace a distinct choice of personality on a character to make them stand out in a story.  In "A & P" by John Updike, Sammy starts off as a young man discontent with his ordinary adult surroundings and moves to his need to change it. Throughout the story, Sammy describes and interprets the scenes around him, consequently revealing his own character, by which can be related through the use of Thomas Chou's Ennegram, to distinguish his personality type.

 

John Updike gives the reader an inside look into the adolescent mind of Sammy, which give the reader a better understanding of his personality. All of these literary devices enhance the meanings of the story's symbols as the boy's personality and view of his world move from content, to admiration, to resignation. Sammy, the first person narrator, plays an essential role in portraying an in depth viewpoint of the story.  His portrayal of a typical teen working in a dead-end job, his thoughts and feelings are very obvious in the story "A & P."

 

Thomas Chou's use of Ennegram gives nine personality types to distinguish what type each person is.  The Enneagram is one of the newest personality systems to become widely used, and is best known for its ability to identify psychological motivations.  The Ennegram provide insights into how other people see the world differently, and it has become particularly popular within the self-help and personal growth movements.  The nine types of Ennagram given by Chou are:  reformers, helpers, motivators, romantics, t...


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... nine personalities.  Sammy in "A & P" has a mysterious side and yet sensitive side to him.  Sammy also showed his flamboyant way of thinking and his wild and wicked imaginations.  A personality can shape the way you think and what you do.  In Sammy's case, through his way of thinking, showed us that he is a character full of imaginations and a distressed on life.  He also showed his emotional side without getting overly sensitive and not wanting others to notice he has a weak side to him; this is usually the case of a romantic personality.  As stated by Chou: "fours (are) sensitive to emotional pain... (and) they share a need for intensity."

 

Works Cited

Updike, John. "A & P"  Bedford Introduction to Literature.  Ed. Michael Meyer. 6th Edition.  Boston:  Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002.


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