Every now and then a situation will arise in our life that can force us to make
a rash or hasty decision, a decision that could possibly effect the rest of your life.
In the short story "A&P" John Updike shows how three bikini clad women walking
into an A&P store, leads Sammy, the main character in the story and, also the
narrator, into quiting his job.
Sammy is a nineteen year old who works at a local A&P store because his
parents are friends of the manager named Lengel,"He's been a friend of my parents
for years." (31) He also lives in a town north of Boston,"it's not as
if we're on the cape; we're north of Boston," (10) and, it seems as though nothing
really exciting happens there, especially on Thursday afternoons,"It being Thursday
afternoon,so there was nothing much to do."(12) All the events in this story are seen
and told through Sammy's eye's in first person narration.
Sammy's use of slang to describe the three girls in this story is often funny
and, also a bit chaulvanistic, the way he describes the first girl to catch his eye
is"she was a chunky kid,with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with
those two cresants of white just under it."
Sammy, not missing a move, watches the girls approach the meat counter. What others want is juvenile delinquency,"(19) and it makes him so angry,"I punch the no sale tab and the machine whirs "pee-pul" and the drawer splats out"(31) that Lengel embarrassed the girls so, before the girls leave the store, he yells "I quit",(24) in hopes of becoming the girls "unsuspected hero"(24). (11) This is the point where Sammy's infatuation with the girls leads to his downfall and, according to Sammy is the sad part of the story,"Now here comes the sad part of the story". (14) It is at the same time Sammy's manager Lengel notices the girls, he is also effected by the way the girls are dressed but, in a different way: he is not pleased. Her father and the other men were standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a big plateand they were all holding drinks the color of water with olives and sprigs of mint in them". The thing that really gets Sammy about this girl is the straps on her bathing suit: her straps were down,"what got me, the straps were down". "(5) I imagine this was not an everyday event back in 1962: this is when the story was written. "(8) Even a married man, such as Stokesie, was not safe from the power of these prettys physical persuation. Then there is the third girl, this is the one Sammy seems to focus on most and, takes up almost three paragraphs to describe her. We know nothing of McMahon other that he works the meat counter and, Sammy notices that McMahon too, falls victim to the girls, "All that was left for us to see was old McMahon patting his mouth and looking after them sizing up their joints". This is where his co-worker McMahon worked.