Life is full of struggles which are inevitable to every human being. Growing up is a process in life that requires someone to make decisions and be ready to take full responsibility for all the consequences that emanate from the decisions made.
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Updike in the short story “A & P” uses Sammy, a teenager who is employed as a clerk in a grocery shop to illustrate the difficulties involved in the process of growing up.
Just as Sammy had to make an important decision,n that had severe consequences which were irreversible, so are all the other adolescents in different parts of the world.
Updike is aimed at illustrating the whole process of growing up and the struggles therein through narrating the story of Sammy as he works in the grocery shop. To begin with, the narrator appears as a young man who is not only innocent but also ignorant.
The growth of Sammy, which later leads to freedom is catalyzed by the entry of three girls into the store. Since the girls are dressed only in a Bikini such that most of their body parts are left bear, their presence in the shop results in different reactions.
Their presence affects not only Sammy but also Lengel who happens to be the owner of the store. The way he views the girls is a clear indication of the process of maturity.
He begins by only recognizing the physical features but continues to analyze their behaviors as well as their appearance (Kennedy and Gioia pp. 18). He notices that they are different from others since they have chosen to dress according to their liking.
More to that, Sammy continues to analyze even the way others are viewing the girls. Since he identifies and is attracted to one of the girls, he gets angry when they are humiliated by the manager.
At this point, the situation requires Sammy to graduate from just being an admirer to a protector and a hero.
The author also illustrates that growing up and becoming mature is associated with standing for what someone believes and making a tough decision to stand by it.
Sammy makes a quick and significant decision of quitting his job or ‘removing the apron’ to illustrate that he was ready to stand for what he believed in.
More to that, he is ready to face the consequence for his decision because even though the manager gives him a second chance and tells him that his decision may affect his parents, he does not look back but moves on with his decision.
The author tries to signify not only the consequences of moving on with life but also the struggle of the parents while letting go.
Sammy illustrates that quitting his job was a sad moment for his parents but to him, it was an achievement altogether and he was not ready to reverse the decision whatsoever (Kennedy and Gioia pp. 19).
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As much as the critics argue that the only reason that makes the story famous is that the readers identify with Sammy, the author has used first-person narration effectively to help and explain the struggles young people go through before becoming adults.
In such a short moment that involves a conflict between Sammy and the manager, the author succeeds in illustrating that developing individuality and attaining freedom is a personal responsibility.
Moreover, the use of first-person narration helps the author to vividly illustrate the conflicts that adolescents have to solve and mend to attain the status of an adult.
Therefore, the use of first-person narration makes the story not only interesting but also helps the author to communicate his views regarding struggles of growing up to the audience.
Kennedy, X. J. and Dana Gioia. Literature: an introduction to fiction, poetry, and drama. London: Longman, 2005. Print.