In John Updike’s story, “A&P”, a young man named Sammy is working the checkout line at the grocery store A&P. Three girls in bathing suits walk throughout the store and he notices key differences in every single one of them. The one girl that sticks out to him the most though, he gives the name “Queenie” based on the way she carries herself and her level of attractiveness. When Sammy’s manager, Lengel, begins embarrassing the girls on the way that they are dressed, Queenie fights back that she had to pick up herring snacks for her mother. Sammy begins to make assumptions about the girl’s life and how her family is probably in a higher social class than his, based on what they drink. A spark ignites in Sammy and he wants to stand up for the girls so he quits his job. In hopes that the girls would hear what he did and become the hero of the situation, he finds that they are gone and also finds a new ...view middle of the document...
When he quits he sees a new life ahead of him with bigger and better opportunities.
The different ways people could interpret this story in endless. Some readers may look at his decision to quit his job on impulse isn’t heroic at all, but selfish. In the moment he is only thinking about himself and wanting the positive feedback from the girls passing through the store. He is leaving not only his boss, but his parents disappointed. When he finds that the girls are gone it seems like his efforts to impress them were pointless. Others may disagree though, and look at his actions as very heroic. Not many people would stick up for strangers just passing through, and better yet quit their job that provides for them. Though the girls may not have seen or heard what had happened, he is left with this sense of empowerment and ambition to begin a better life for himself.
Gender criticism can also be included in paragraph above. For example, women probably interpreted the characters differently than med did. Women most likely see Queenie as girl who possesses strong individual characteristics such as being independent and roaring with self confidence. As she can see Sammy and the other workers staring at her from the corner of her eye, she doesn’t flinch a muscle. She still walks with great poise knowing what she is worth. Men may look at Queenie as a weak character. As soon as she is attacked by the store manager she slowly starts to feel less of a person and tries to fight back though it doesn’t work.
Overall the story shows the different qualities Sammy acquires. Some might see him as a hero or egocentric. Either way the underlying cause for him quitting his job was to make something bigger out of him. If those girls would have never walked through the store that day, he could still be working his job with no desire to make bigger dreams for himself. From the way that the girls were dressed, to the way Queenie presented herself, those were all building blocks for Sammy to discover who he really was and who he wanted to be