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John Updike’s “A & P”, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 333

Essay

In a longer story, John Updike’s “A&P”, a more fully developed exposition section establishes the story’s setting, introduced the main characters, and suggests possible conflicts. The youthful narrator in “A & P” uses present tense, but not consistently, which gives his narrative a very colloquial, even unschooled flavor. Although the story’s plot is quitesimple, but what is at the heart of the story is complex: “a noble sign that serves as anunsuccessful attempt to cross social and economic boundaries”.Through Sammy’s eyes, one sees the primary conflict that defines the story.

In the opening of to Updike’s A&P, the reader quickly realizes that Sammy tells the truth as far as he knows it, but because he is so immature, it is not the same truth that the reader sees. Sammy describes people and things only in terms of their appearance, which the reader quickly realizes is how he views the world – and incorrectly so. The story describes how he finally sees beyond the surface to discover himself. The suspense for the reader is, “Will Sammy reach that level of self-discovery that will free him?”

Sammy identifies himself in the opening paragraph: “In walks these three girls….by the bread”. And later, “Stokesie’s married….and I was nineteen this April”. The girls incur the wrath of the store manger, who scolds them for their inappropriate dress. And Sammy, in his adolescent idealism, quits on the spot.Although he realizes that he does not want to ‘do this’ to his parents, he tells “…it seems to me….go through with it”. But his beau geste is ill-spent: “I look around for…to me hereafter”.

Sammy tells his story from a perch not too distant from the events he recounts. Both narrators still feel the immediacy of their rites of passage very strongly. Sammy was performing for an audience, doing things he knew would cause pain to himself and his family, for the sake of those three girls who never gave him the slightest encouragement and whom he would probably never ever see again.

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