A Typical Man

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2001

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There are days that it would be nice outside and I'll go out for a walk; I'd either go to the park up the block, the Bodega (a Spanish grocery store) at the corner, or a friend's house. I would walk down the sidewalk and it's like I'm a famous person or an expensive car the way guys around me would act, and the thing is that it happens to all women. You get the "looks" by the guy across the street, the "stare" by the men driving by, the "whistles" from the group of guy's sitting on stairs as I walk by, and then there's the occasional "neck-break" when a guy walks by me. All that attention is very uplifting to some and tolerable by most, but when a guy crosses the line and actually speaks his mind, that's when he becomes a sexist pig. In the short story "A&P" by John Updike it's main character Sammy didn't cross the line on being a sexistpig.

From the moment the three girls-"Queenie", "that chunky one", and "the tall one"- entered the supermarket he acted like a normal typical man, Sammy couldn't keep his eyes off them. So much in fact that the girl's were a big distraction, " I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not"(421). He watched the girls every movement as if they were the only thing that mattered to him at that time; ""¦the girls had circled around the bread and were coming back"¦"(421), ""¦and then they all three of them went up the cat-and-dog-food-breakfast-cereal-macaroni-rice-raisins-seasonings-spreads-spaghetti-soft-drinks-crackers-and-cookies aisle. From the third slot I look straight up this aisle to the meat counter, and I watched them all the way" (422). The three girls obviously had his undivided attention.

He deeply and metaphorically describes every striking detail about all three of them. With the chunky one he notices that her bathing suit is new; ""¦it was bright green and the seams on the bra were still sharp and her belly was still pretty pale so I guessed she just got it (the suit)"(421). ""¦and a tall one, with black hair that hadn't quite frizzed right, and one of these sunburns right across under the eyes and a chin that was too long-you know, the kind of girl other girls think is very "striking" and " attractive""¦"(421); and Queenie, "She came down a little hard on her heels, as if she didn't walk in bare feet that much"¦"(421).

Although he describes the three girls in extreme detail, you can tell that he's really interested in Queenie. The way she looks, the way she's dressed, the way she carries herself, the way she stands out among the other two girls. "The longer her neck was, the more of her there was."(422), and "She kept her eyes moving across the racks, and stopped, and turned so slow it made my stomach rub the inside of my apron"¦"(422). His infatuation towards Queenie is clearly evident.

The argument was made that Sammy is a sexistpig. Whoever feels that way might think that way because of what he said about the chunky girl ""¦with a good tan and a sweet soft-looking can"¦"(421). He was just being a guy noticing everything about her. He wasn't rude and commented the chunky girl's can to her face, or discussed her can with Stokesie, and he didn't talk about its size and what he would do with it. He kept it clean and to himself. It's also evident that he's not a sexistpig when the girls got to the meat counter, "All that was left to see was old McMahon patting his mouth and looking after them sizing up their joints. Poor kids I began to feel sorry for them"(423). Sammy admired their beauty, McMahon acted like they were objects, and Sammy saw that and that's why he felt bad.

Sammy also quit his job because of the way they were treated. Actually he did it to impress the girls. He didn't have to, he could've told Lengel he was joking, or he could've acted like he didn't even say anything because Lengel wasn't even sure of what Sammy said, but ""¦it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with it."(424). "The girls, and who'd blame them, are in a hurry to get out, so I say "I quit" to Lengel quick enough for them to hear, hoping they'll stop and watch me, their unsuspecting hero."(424). After Sammy noticed that the girls didn't notice what he did, or maybe they noticed and didn't care, he must've felt stupid. He knew he did the wrong thing, giving up his job for girls he didn't even know, because he said that he knows how hard the world was going to be hereafter, but at least there's one less lesson to learn.

The line of being a typical man and a sexistpig is so thin. We women tend to get a little confused when making our judgements about men, whether it's an honest compliment about our looks or a vulgar disgusting remark, sometimes we get the two mixed-up. Therefore, Sammy, "A&P"'s main character, is not a sexistpig, but a typical man.