A And P By Updike

In the story “A&P,” by John Updike, the main character Sammy makes
the leap from an adolescent, knowing little more about life than what he has
learned working at the local grocery store, into a man prepared for the rough
road that lies ahead. As the story begins, Sammy is nineteen and has no real
grasp for the fact that he is about to be living on his own working to support
himself.

Throughout the course of the story, he changes with a definite step
into, first, a young man realizing that he must get out of the hole he is in and
further into a man, who has a grasp on reality looking forward to starting his
own family. In the beginning, Sammy is but a youth growing up learning what he
knows about life in small town grocery store.

His role models include, Stokesie, the twenty-two year-old, supporting a family doing the same job Sammy does yet aspiring to one day have the managers position, and Lengel, the store manager
who most certainly started out in the same place that Stokesie and he were
already in. Stoksie, the great role model, continues to be as adolescent as
Sammy, with his “Oh, Daddy, I feel so faint,” and even Sammy sees this
noting that “as far as I can tell thats the only difference (between he
and I).” Sammy whittles away his days looking at pretty girls and thinking
about the ways of people.

He hardly realizes that this is how he will spend his
entire existence if he doesnt soon get out of this job. During this day that
will prove to change his life, he makes the step towards his realization. He
decides that he doesnt want to spend the rest of his life working at an
A&P competing for the store managers position. Sammy thinks to himself
about his parents current social class and what they serve at cocktail
parties. And, in turn, he thinks about what he will be serving, if he stays at
the A&P, “When my parents have somebody over they get lemonade and if
its a real racy affair Schlitz in tall glasses with Theyll Do It Every
Time cartoons stenciled on.”

He must get out and the sooner the better.
He is still just an adolescent who hasnt completely thought through his
decision and yet his mind is made up. He quits his job using the girls merely as
an excuse to get out. His final journey to manhood is a short one. He looks
around for his girls and notices that they have already left, but he knew that
was a futile cause to begin with.

And he steps outside to see the world and its
opportunities as well as its responsibilities in front of him. Although, Sammy
could see “how hard the world would be hereafter,” he knew that what
was done had to be done. In hindsight, Sammy still knew he had done the right
thing as shown by “Now here comes the sad part of the storybut I dont
think its so sad myself.”