A&P Essay

A&P Essay-34
I mean, it was more than pretty.” In other words, he is aroused by the sight, and, more than this, it is likely that he is not content simply to admire from afar.When she reaches the cash register, he notes that there is no ring on her finger, and one can just imagine him calculating his chances with her and trying to figure out a way in.

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Finally, the general point should be made that the 1950s and earliest years of the 1960s are often depicted as times of conformity. Updike certainly had this in mind when he wrote the story. Murray (available from that in those days, during the late years of the Eisenhower administration and early Kennedy years, “people were expected to conform,” although there was also an“undercurrent of rebellion” and “voices of dissent” in figures such as novelist Jack Kerouac, poet Allen Ginsberg, and movie actor James Dean. The perspective, therefore, is that of a young person—his thoughts, feelings, observations, and actions.

Had Updike chosen to tell it from Lengel’s point of view (or Queenie’s, for that matter, or Stokesie’s), it would have been a very different story.

Such an incident, if it should occur, would likely turn heads now as it did then, and also inflame the passions of young men.

However, some small details in the story give some clues that it was in fact written in a different era from the present. He is only twenty-two years old yet is already a married man with two children, which likely means that he married very young indeed, perhaps around the age of twenty.

His remark “They didn’t even have shoes on” shows how struck he is by their near nakedness.

He is particularly attracted to the leader of the three, whom he dubs Queenie, carefully noting her long white legs and the fact—no doubt every erotic—that she has her shoulder straps down, which leaves an exquisiteexpanse of bare flesh from just above her chest to her neck, which he describes as “this clean bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light.He looks all three of them up and down, taking in their physical characteristics: the shape of their bodies, the color of their skin and hair.This is a sudden and unexpected treat for him; after all, it is the A&P store, not the beach, and this is just not what one would expect to see in this environment.Right from the first moment he sees the girls, he cannot take his eyes off them.He is so startled and discombobulated at the sight of them that he cannot remember whether he has rung up a customer’s purchase or not.He has no respect for the customers and is looking for an opportunity to quit, which is not so easy to do because it would disappoint his parents: “Sammy must, therefore, remain an employee until he can find a reason to justify his quitting. a young man who takes full advantage of an opportunity to free himself from the responsibility-filled life that he desperately wants to avoid.” Also writing in (Summer 2003), Harriet Blodgett takes the view that the imagery in the story suggests that the three girls are being presentedplayfully “as temptresses who lead Sammy astray.” By this she does not mean the traditional Sirens who lure sailors to their destruction but “creatures who had fish bodies and so came to be seen as mermaids and above all as symbols of seduction.” Blodgett points to the abundance of “ocean imagery” in the story, “from the Atlantic and Pacific (Markets) setting to the . .‘Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks.’” She also notes that the girls wear bathing suits “and naturally they do not ‘even have shoes on.’”Blodgett quotes Sammy’s description of Queenie, who “came down a little hard on her heels, as if she didn't walk in her bare feet that much, putting down her heels and then letting the weight move along to her toes as if she was testing the floor with every step.” Blodgett comments, “as one might do, wearing flippers.” 2.Though masking his actions as chivalry, Sammy uses the girls; for they act as catalysts that precipitate his well-considered decision to resign.” Thompson concludes that Sammy is not “a hero, but rather . What part does romantic attraction and sexual desire play in the story?(Updike himself married in 1953 at the age of 21, while he was still in college.) Also, it might strike a contemporary reader as odd to find two young men working at the cash register in the store. In those days, however, there were fewer women in the workforce than there are today.Women usually left the workforce when they got married and had children.In first person narration, the narrator can write only of what he or she sees, hears, thinks, feels, knows, or is told directly.Other characters in the story can be known only through what they do, as seen by the narrator; what they say within his or her earshot; what others may say about them; and the opinions the narrator has about them.


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