Eng. 126: Writing About Literature
Unhappy Endings: "A&P"
And “The Metamorphosis"
A&P written by John Updike is a funny short story, where the main character and narrator is Sammy, a 19 year old checkout clerk that have an interesting Thursday, that do not end to well for him. “My stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter. (Updike 299). Now in sci-fi story, The Metamorphosis written by Franz Kafka where the main character, is a traveling salesman named Gregor Samsa. One morning Gregor wakes up, transformed into a large, monstrous insect-like creature out of nowhere. His time being a large bug was not good at all, leaving him a tragic ending. “Then unwilled, his head sank fully down, and from his nostrils his last breath weakly streamed forth” (Kafka 147). Even though, A&P is a funny short story in comparison to The Metamorphosis a sci-fi novella, both stories shows a different and a kind of similar perspective on how the main character views work or basically their job. Sammy does not seem to like his job very much and really not interested in working there. He calls one of his customers a "witch" and says the other customers are "house slaves" and "sheep." And everything seem to change once those 3 girls walk into the A&P. But on the other hand, in The Metamorphosis, Gregor is the same as Sammy but different. Gregor is taking a job he dislikes so that he can provide for his family and he is planning to pay for his sister to study music at the conservatory. As you can see Gregor value work way more than Sammy does, and have a strong reason to do it. Sammy probably only work because his parents tell him too. The main characters Sammy and Gregor were faced with unfortunate circumstances at the end of each story, leaving the reader feeling as sorry for Sammy, as they did for Gregor. Updike’s Sammy, and Kafka’s Gregor, will lose all hope for their future, and each one will suffer sadness and grief the same way differently.
John Updike portrays Sammy as a typical teenage boy that hates his job, with a vivid imagination. In John Updike's short story, A&P, the protagonist Sammy makes a severe change to his life driven by nothing more than his immaturity and desire to do what he wants and because of that, he has do deal with the consequences. From the beginning of the story until the end of the story, it is clear that Sammy in no way likes his job, nor is he fond of the customers and people he is surrounded by each day. To Sammy, they are nothing more than "sheep" going through the wave of life. "I bet you could set off dynamite in an A&P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering “Let me see, there was a third thing, began with A, asparagus, no, ah, yes, applesauce!' or whatever it was they do mutter." (Updike, 295). He view them negatively; to him they are boring and useless, living dull and unimportant lives and it's obvious through Sammy's portrayal of them that he doesn't want to ever become one of them, nor does he want to be around them any longer, and he made the perfectly clear at the end. It is also clear that for Sammy and everyone else who works at the A&P, that the job is basically boring, simply by the way they react to the arrival of the three unique teenage girls. Updike has Sammy’s libido all over the place, he is happily dissecting each girl with vivid details on their physical appearance, “There was this chunky one, with the two-piece -- it was bright green and the seams on the bra were still sharp and her belly was still pretty pale so I guessed she just got it (the suit) -- there was this one, with one of those chubby berry-faces, the lips all bunched together under her nose, this one, and a tall one, with black hair that hadn't quite frizzed right, and one of these sunburns right across under the eyes, and a chin that was too long -- you know, the kind of