Today and normalities to evolving into an adult
Posted On May 15, 2019
Today in the life that we live, many morals and actions that we partake in on a daily basis would not have been socially acceptable in the 1960’s. Societal issues are discussed through the perspective of a nineteen year old grocery store cashier, Sammy, in this short story. Sammy, spending majority of his down time observing the men and women of the store, imagines every aspect of their life with each and every differing interaction. In John Updike’s “A&P”, through symbolism and setting, Sammy, an immature teenager, transforms from opposing social rules and normalities to evolving into an adult who takes position for his beliefs and then faces the consequences of his reality. The controversies discussed within “A&P”, published in the 1960’s, are still important topics debated in today’s society. The short story is simple and Sammy’s colloquial speech can be easily related to, but Updike’s use of cultural knowledge of the time period leaves an open ended meaning to be analyzed more by his readers. (Saldivar…..) Updike, being a non-Catholic man, eloquently injects themes of religion into his work like many other writers of his time did. The A&P grocery store was centered “right in the middle of town” (Updike…). This positioning, in the 60’s, was usually where the towns place of worship was located. In the locations placement, Updike introduces a touch of irony to the story. Walter Wells implies how the grocery store represents a “temple of modern consumerism” (Wells….) and it was in a big way replacing the community’s place of worship. John Updike demonstrates how incredibly timeless his writing can be, it was relevant to the men and women of the 60’s, yet still encompasses the societal issues that today’s people still face. From the beginning of the short story Sammy’s immaturity is prevalent when he notices that “In walks three girls in nothing but bathing suits” (Updike….). He then watches the three girls meander throughout the store noting every detail of their actions and physique, from their skin tone to the color of their swim suit. Being the teenage boy that Sammy is, he can not help but desire and admire how confidently the three walk about the store freely. Even more so in the 1960’s it was deemed unacceptable to walk around in public in a bathing suit. The manager, Mr. Lengel, takes notice of the girls attire and rather publicly asks the trio to leave the store. At this moment in time Sammy has watched these three girls for a decent amount of time. He has increasingly grown more and more attached to the three and instead of referring to them as “these three girls”, as he did initially, he now calls them as “my girls” (Updike ….), because he feels that he has an emotional connection to them through his own observations (Kellner ….).