A&P- a Change in Motives Essay

Submitted By andemiller
Words: 1422
Pages: 6

A Change of Motives in Updike’s A&P In John Updike’s “A&P” , Sammy is a girl crazy nineteen year old boy. He has trouble focusing, and is very observant of some girls that walk in the store on a Thursday afternoon. The girls are in bathing suits and he watches and observes them as they shop. When the girls come to his stand to checkout, The manager comments on their outfits. The manager Lengal embarrasses the girls in front of the entire store. Trying to impress the girls, Sammy quits. The girls walk out, not hearing his effort to look bold and heroic. After the girls leave, Lengal asks Sammy what he said. Sammy stands up for what he believes to be the right thing, and again tells his manager he quits. It is important to understand the change of motives in Sammy’s decision to quit his job in order to recognize the growth of maturity he exhibits. Sammy first decides to quit his job to impress the girls, but then he quits to follow through with what he started and to stand up for what he believes is right. At the beginning of the story Updike shows that Sammy isn’t very focused on his job and how easily he is distracted. When the girls first walk in, his attention completely shifts to the girls, rather than the lady he was checking out. After observing the girls, Sammy completely loses focus on what he was doing prior to their entrance and “stood there with [his] hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if [he] rang it up”(753). This shows that he is a girl crazy teenager, and that he was very attentive to their entrance. Sammy also says that while the girls were shopping he “watched them all the way” (753). The girls entrance and his reaction is important in showing that Sammy is very girl crazy, and a little immature and loses focus easily. It is essential to understand that Sammy‘s focus is mainly on the girls, and has completely shifted from his job. Understanding this shows that at the beginning of the story he is a little immature. Updike also shows how interested and attentive Sammy is to the girls by providing so much detail about them and showing how observant Sammy is of the girls. Sammy describes the girls in vivid detail. Sammy describes many details about the girls, which shows how girl crazy and observant he is. Sammy watches One of the girls he calls the “queen”(753) and describes how she walks, “putting down her heels and then letting the weight move along to her toes as if she was testing the floor with every step… ”(753).This detail shows that Sammy is really focused on the girls, and nothing else. He observing almost everything about them and they have his full attention. While describing one of the girl’s necks Sammy says it “looked kind of stretched, but I didn’t mind. The longer the neck was, the more of her there was”(754). This shows that Sammy is fond of the girl, and is attracted to her. When the girl pulls the money out of her top, Sammy says: “Really, I thought that was so cute”(755). Furthermore, this shows Sammy’s attraction and attentiveness to the girl. It is important to understand that Sammy is very attracted and interested in these girls. They completely caught his attention. After they ask McMahon something, they shuffle away and Sammy says: “ there was nothing much to do except lean on the register and wait for the girls to show up again”(755). This shows that the girls have not left Sammy’s mind and that he is still thinking about them. The unusualness of girls coming into the store in bathing suits is also important in order to understand why these girls caught Sammy’s attention. Girls coming in in bathing suits does not happen on a typical day at the A&P. Sammy points out to the reader how odd it is that the girls come in the store dressed in bathing suits: “Its one thing to have a girl in a bathing suit down on the beach…and another thing in the cool of the A&P, under the fluorescent lights, against all those stacked packages…”(754). It is also strange that the