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A&p Case Study

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"Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices." Those words spoken by Alfred A. Montapert, really grasps one of the main points in the story A&P by John Updike. John Updike was born on March 18, 1932. He died on January 27, 2009; John was about seventy-six or seventy-seven years old when he passed away. Updike is a dominant contemporary American author. In this story three teenage girls walk into the A&P grocery store very inappropriately dressed, wearing nothing but their bathing suits. As they were about to check out, the manager of the store decides to humiliate them and insist that the dress code be followed. When the girls walk out of the store, Sammy, the cashier, makes the decision to be the hero of the day and quit his job as a sign of standing up for the girls. John Updike expresses the theme of choices and consequences through characterization, symbolism, and individualism.

Each character of this story has to face many choices which are followed with innumerable consequences, some of which they may not like. The first example of choices and consequences is right in the beginning when the girls walk into the grocery store. The three girls make the choice of walking into the store wearing only their bathing suits (Wilson 4). They probably thought they would attract a little attention, but they attracted attention from almost everyone in the store. They sauntered up and down the aisles getting looks from the rest of the shoppers, but they didn't seem to care about what everyone else was thinking about them. Just before the end of the story, when the girls go to the checkout counter, Lengel, the store's manager walks out of his office. Lengel humiliates the girls in front of everyone (Wilson 5). He told them that the next time they come into his store, they better be dressed appropriately with their shoulders covered. The three girls left the store with no thoughts of ever coming back in bathing suits ever again. The girls' consequence was getting embarrassed (Wilson 4). Lengel too makes a choice. He decides to call the girls out on their wardrobe. He chose to enforce the dress code (Peltier 11). Lengel's consequence is unknown to the readers. After this debacle, Sammy makes his choice. Sammy chooses to be the hero and quit his job for the girls. Sammy quitting his job and trying to be the hero is an example of irony, because the heroism is meaningless (Uphaus 124). When the girls were walking out of the store, Sammy tells Lengel that he's quitting his job, in hopes the girls had heard him. The girls continued to walk out the door like nothing had happened. Lengel gave Sammy a chance to take it back, but Sammy's resignation stood (Wilson 5). He quit his job because he didn't like the way the manager had just spoke to the three girls. Sammy knew the consequence of his decision when he made it, but when Lengel gave him the chance to take back his resignation, he didn't. Sammy knew his parents would be disappointed with him but he would figure all that our later (Peltier 11).

John Updike enforces the theme of choices and consequences with his use of symbolism. Symbolism is a literary movement that originated in the late-nineteenth-century France, in which writers rearranged the world of appearances in order to reveal a more truthful version of reality (Sime 1202). When the three girls walk into the store, Sammy immediately starts calling one of them 'Queenie.' Queenie represents the queen of a bee hive, and the other two girls are like the worker bees. Sammy gave her this name because she was like the leader of the girls. She walked holding her head up high (Wilson 6). Another example of symbolism would be the herring snacks. The snacks are representing social class. The herring snacks are to show that Queenie is part of a higher social class than Sammy



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