John Updike's "A&P". The characterization of Sammy

Essay by djaddCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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Sammy, the young character in John Updike's "A & P" is truly a dynamic character. At the beginning of this short story, Sammy seems to be maintaining the status quo in his job as a checker at the local grocery store in a small New England beach town. He is content until the day that three young women walk into the grocery store in just their bathing suits, no shirts and no shoes. Immediately, Sammy's world is turned upside down and Sammy will undergo a sudden, dynamic change that even surprises him.

Sammy is bored, with life as a checker at the A & P. He despises the men and women in the grocery store, referring to housewives as "sheep pushing their carts down the aisle" and laborers as "freeloaders". (Kirszner & Mandell, 126). He refers to a woman currently in his aisle as a "witch about fifty" who "if she was born at the right time they would have burned her over in Salem" (Kirszner & Mandell, 125).

His disdain of the people that come into the grocery is an obvious outlet for his disdain of the job. However, he has remained in the job because his parents are friends of the store manager.

His world changes when three girls, dressed only in swimsuits, enter his store to purchase an item. His description of the three girls is quite sexist - referring to one as the "chunky kid, with one great tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can..." (Kirszner & Mandell, 125). His descriptions of the girls are both good and bad in the same sentence. He instantly becomes infatuated with one he refers to as "Queenie". Queenie personifies the life that Sammy wants. She seems to be higher class, walks differently from the other girls and...