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Critical Essay Assignment - Character Analysis (`A&P` by John Updike)





Sammy 's Choice : Conventional and Unconventional in Updike 's A

p Prejudice is an evil that lurks even in small towns . John Updike 's A

' chooses an ordinary event and setting to convey how people judge by appearances . The short story 's main point is to present the contrast between the conventional and the non-conformist . The narrator of the story , a checkout boy named Sammy , is caught in between . His impulsive decision near the end of the short story provides him a mission that he

must keep in to maintain the chivalric intent when he defends the three young girls who have been regarded by disdain by the conformists If Sammy does not display consistency in his defense of non-conformity his intentions will be proved mainly motivated by lust or by pure admiration , the feelings of an infatuated boy not that of a knight in shining armor

Sammy represents the emerging awareness of the values of nonconformity not quite a rebel yet but not really devoted to following every rule Meanwhile , the three girls wearing bathing suits in the grocery are representations of the modern and the non-conformists while the store manager , Lengel represent strict conformity or conventionalism . While the other people in the grocery are torn between curiosity and dismay over the girls ' attire , Sammy does not display the same reaction Instead , he ponders about Queenie 's effects on the other people with some amusement . You could see them , when Queenie 's white shoulders dawned on them , kind of jerk , or hop , or hiccup , but their eyes snapped back to their own baskets and on they pushed .there was no doubt , this jiggled them (Updike . Here , Sammy notes that people are still badly affected by what they perceive as an attack against convention . They may not be as strict as Lengel , because they pretend not to have noticed , but they are the type not to question rules and who feel unsafe when there is a shift to something new . Queenie , as Sammy calls her in his mind , even protests We are decent (Updike ) when confronted by Lengel . Sammy believes her enough to defend her . Moreover , he is starting to recognize his kinship with the nonconformists . The manager however , is steadfast in his beliefs that proper attire must be used in for any customer to be properly entertained in the A

. The reason he gives is Policy is what kingpins want . What the others want is juvenile delinquency (Updike . This suggests that he believes policy must be always followed in for discipline to be instilled For Sammy to defy such a man means he must also be ready to defy over-all convention

Sammy is a nineteen year old who is still seeking his place in the world . Unlike Lengel and the shoppers , he is not quick to judge Instead of showing shock at the girls ' attire , he analyzes people 's reactions toward them . This analytic mind suggests a more open-minded outlook...

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