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Literary Analysis of Updike's "A & P"

Paper type: Analysis
Pages: 3 (535 words)
Categories: Psychology, Short Story
Downloads: 14
Views: 33

Updike’s “A&P” is an interesting story of attitude and the male ego. Sammy, being young and obviously very observant, describes in first person point of view the events that lead up to him quitting his job. The theme of “A&P” is central to the idealistic and moral values of young verses old. As represented in the difference of attitude towards the girls regarding the wearing of swim suits in the local grocery store.

While the girls are strolling through the various aisles, Sammy is enthralled with the appearance with one girl more than the other two.

He apparently does not have an issue with the attire of the girls. Moreover, he is better inclined to allow his hormones to control the situation. This is evident by the way Sammy describes the three girls, each one with a unique style and flare. An example of this would be the way in paragraph 1 and 4 where he refers to the backside of one of the girls as a “can”.

A contrast to that description would be the way he describes Queenie. Immediately noticing that the straps of her suit were down tells the reader that in Sammy’s mind the girls were objects of fixation and mere physical gratification.

The second paragraph shows this very well when Sammy compares the minds of girls to a buzz like a bee in a glass jar. In the opinion of this reader Sammy is no more than an over sexed teenager wandering through the toils of his daily life at work fantasizing about every pretty face he sees. Sammy leads the reader to believe that Stoksie, his co-worker, is a married, dirty (although middle aged), old man, who would probably jump at the chance to cheat on his wife if he thought he could get away with it. This is clear in the 7th and 8th paragraphs.

One can tell by the inflection used in the dialogue between Stoksie and Sammy. The description of the store manager (Lengel), is that of a dried up prune of a man, who is obsessed with rules and appearances. He is so worried about what the local patrons will think that he insists on harassing the girls about what they are or are not wearing. He didn’t even wait until the other customers were gone. The reasons stated above are clear evidence that the central theme of the story is age and the way different age groups view differences in society.

To be more specific, the way young people might see the beauty in something that older, more business oriented people would see the same situation as a problem. The older man, Lengel is more inclined to see the three girls as rule breakers and/or rebellious. And, the younger man Stoksie sees the girls as eye candy. Sammy in turn sees the whole situation as entertainment. At least until Lengel steps up and publicly humiliates the girls. The style of the story was first person narrative with very impressive transitions from one event in the story to the next.


  1. Roberts,E and Jacobs,H., Literature, an Introduction to Reading and Writing( 2004).
  2. Pearson Prentice Hall,. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Analytical-Essay-A-P-by-John-Updike/17031, retrieved from www.academon.com, April 19.2011.

Cite this essay

Literary Analysis of Updike’s “A & P”. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/literary-analysis-of-updikes-a-p-essay

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