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A&p Case Study

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A&P In the short story ?A&P?, Sammy a young checker at the A&P, a local grocery store, experiences some unusual customers that end up affecting his entire life through a series of events. First person narration, characterization, motivation, geographical setting, and symbolism are a few of the ways the author, John Updike gives the reader an inside look into the adolescents mind. All of these literary devices enhance the meanings of the story?s symbols as the boy?s personality and view of his world move from content to admiration to resignation. Sammy, the first person narrator, plays an essential role in portraying an in depth viewpoint of the story. Thus, Sammy tells us that he lives with his parents and that he disapproves of the supermarket?s customers. He labels them clueless, ignorant, and lost when he refers to them as, ? The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle?.? He also tells the reader how three teenage girls attract much attention to them when they walk in with nothing but bathing suits on. He goes into depth on each of their physical features, such as their bikinis and body shapes. Furthermore, he tells us their actions, attitudes, and gestures. In using first person narration, Sammy is able to present incidents very convincingly. He explains the setting and action in a very real way, which draws the reader closer into the story making one feel inside the story. In the ?A&P? the author uses characterization to develop the characters and reveal those character traits to the reader. The protagonist, Sammy, represents a round and well-developed character. His reaction to the conflict between the three attractive girls and the manager of the store reflects his responsiveness to change. Lengel, the manager, and ?the sheep?, or the customers, is an example of a flat and barely developed character. Lengel is a very stereotypical boss who goes by the rules and does what he has to do in reflection of the state of the store. ?The sheep? represent the stereotype of the usual customer in the grocery store. Stokesie, another checker, is a foil for Sammy because he is a little older than Sammy and shows none of Sammy?s imagination, restlessness, or nonconformity. Stokesie suggests what Sammy might become if he were to continue to work at the A&P. The three girls, which include Queenie the dominant one of the three, are examples of static characters because they essentially remain unchanged throughout the entrance and exit of the story. In a short story round characters are complicated, and are not always easy to fully understand. Therefore, the reader must be able to make sense of what the author is trying to accomplish, in essence they must understand the motivation of the complex character. For example, given Sammy?s age, frustration with his job, and his craving to please the young women he calls Queenie, the decision he makes at the end of the story is perfectly conceivable and understood. As a result, Sammy?s motivation justifies the means. The setting in ?A&P?,



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