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Choices and Consequences

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Choices and Consequences

In "A&P", the author John Updike demonstrates the importance of choices and their consequences. It is important that someone considers everything that could occur before making a decision. Updike uses the characters of Sammy, the three girls in bathing suits, and Lengel in the story to show how important it is to carefully contemplate the consequences of their choices.

All of the main characters in the story make a choice and must endure the consequences. Sammy, the cashier of the supermarket, makes the most obvious choice. After an embarrassing encounter with the three girls and his manager, he has the choice of moving on and pretending nothing had happened, or standing up for the girls and doing something which he believes is right. He chooses to quit his job. In a conversation with his manager, Lengel, Sammy says, "I said I quit...You didn't have to embarrass them" (Updike 373). He follows up this gesture by walking out and leaving Lengel standing there. When he does this, however, he knows that this decision will have long lasting ramifications in his life. He recounts the story as "sad". This means his resignation had a negative effect on him. One consequence of quitting his job is it causes a strain in his relationship with his parents. Before walking out, Lengel tries to reason with him. He says, "'Sammy, you don't want to do this to your Mom and Dad,' he tells me. It's true, I don't. But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with it" (Updike 373). Sammy needs to consider his parents before making the decision of quitting. Another, more obvious consequence is that now Sammy needs to find a new job. If Sammy quits his job every time he encounters a situation he dislikes, his life will become very complicated.

The three girls also suffer the consequences of the decision they make. They made the choice of going to the grocery store in their bathing suits rather than normal attire. Sammy notices them as they walk in. He says, "In walks these three girls in nothing but their bathing suits...The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid-green two piece" (Updike 369). In the early 1960's, women would wear dresses, miniskirts and go-go boots when they were in public. These girls walked in the store with just their bathing suits on. One consequence of their actions is the lecture given by Lengel. He firmly tells them that what they are wearing is very inappropriate and disrespectful. He says, "Girls, this isn't the beach...We want you decently dressed when you come in here...I don't want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered. It's our policy" (Updike 372). Because of their choice to violate community standards, they also suffer the embarrassment of being reprimanded by the

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