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John Updike’s Story “A&P” Essay


The contemporary culture emphasizes the importance of a person’s job since it is a crucial element of one’s identity. Updike’s story “A & P” ends with Sammy choosing to quit his job. As the story ends, Sammy posits, “…and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter” (Updike 738).

The significance of this story line is that Sammy knows how tough life will be without a job, particularly because he has quit working for Lengel. Sammy also knows that he will be a disappointment to his parents for quitting his job; a fact the Lengel reminds him by saying, “Sammy, you don’t want to do this to your mum and dad” (Updike 737).

The issues that force Sammy to quit his job hinge on the fact that the A & P’s grocery manager that he works for admonishes three young girls who come to do their shopping while in their swimsuits only. The manager finds this dressing mode indecent and so he cautions them to cover their shoulders while coming to the store. He says, “Girls, I don’t want to argue with you. After this, come in here with your shoulders covered. It’s our policy” (Updike 737). This move does not go well with Sammy who thinks that the manager totally disregards customer’s dignity and thus he decides to quit his job on the spot.

The final line brings closure to the story by showing that despite Sammy’s efforts to please the three girls and even going to the extent of quitting his job, they hardly appreciate his gesture and he becomes jobless oblivious of how he will cope in the world. Updike finalizes his story with this line to show the situation that is currently being faced by jobless people. He uses epiphany to show the sudden realization of Sammy’s actions of an uncertain future now that he has made the choice to quit his job. Updike shows that jobless people have certain worries and fears of what the future holds for them.

The impact that Sammy’s choice may have on his future is that the fact that he is now jobless, he will disappoint his parents coupled with the fact that he does not know how he will earn a living, particularly during the hard economic times. In the contemporary culture, jobs are becoming extremely hard to come by and so in, my opinion Sammy’s decision to quit his job just because he wants to please the three girls is not worth anything. In an epiphany, Sammy realizes the mistake he has made and realizes that if he does not follow the conventional paths of life, he might suffer a great deal.

On the other hand, Sammy can be lucky and get numerous opportunities for another job. An employer out there might decide to take a chance on him since he proves that he firmly stands for what he believes in. However, he could face great obstacles especially if he does not take up the conventional paths of the world. The fact that he is rebellious in a strict society may hinder him from getting jobs since no one will agree to hire him with his rebellious attitude.

In conclusion, Sammy made the wrong call and thus he should avoid making hasty decisions in the future that he will end up regretting. Acting a hero to the three girls clearly did not work as they hardly noticed his efforts. He confesses, “I look around for my girls, but they’re gone of course” (Updike 738). This confession shows that in modern society where jobs are hard to come by, one should try as much as possible to retain what s/he has despite the challenges.

Works Cited

Updike, John. “A & P.” Ed. Michael Meyer. The Bedford Introduction to Literature Reading, Thinking. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 733-738. Print.

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"John Updike's Story "A&P"." IvyPanda, 6 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/john-updikes-story-ap/.

1. IvyPanda. "John Updike's Story "A&P"." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-updikes-story-ap/.


IvyPanda. "John Updike's Story "A&P"." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-updikes-story-ap/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "John Updike's Story "A&P"." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-updikes-story-ap/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'John Updike's Story "A&P"'. 6 May.

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