From Sammy’s language, what do you learn about his view of himself, about his educational and class level?
A & P by John Updike is a piece of writing about two people from different social classes. The story depicts many various themes, which deserve attention. However, the problem of social differences stands straight in the middle of the discussion. Sammy, a simple boy from a middle-class family, works in a local grocery. Once a young girl drops in this grocery to get some snacks for her mother, and the ordinary world is ruined for Sammy. He seems to fall in love with ‘Queenie’. The story ends as it should end. A wonderful girl from the upper class just leaves without even having noticed Sammy, but for Sammy everything just begins. Sammy quits right after ‘Queenie’ leaves, but having found no one on the street he understands where his place is. However, the most important conclusion in the story is about the place Sammy wants to have and the higher class he wants to achieve. That is why the final sentence states, “I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter” (Updike, 2013). Sammy understands that he is on a lower class position and to reach the higher class he should work much.
The first sentence, like one of many other sentences in the story, shows the class and the level of education Sammy has. “In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I’m in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don’t see them until they’re over by the bread” (Updike, 2013). This sentence is grammatically incorrect and the author uses such wrong constructions to show the low level of Sammy’s education. There are a lot of other sentences in the story, such as “She must have felt in the corner of her eye me” (Updike, 2013). These wrong constructions show that Sammy is from a poor family, where he could not get good education. Sammy’s quit proves the same. According to Hatcher, Sammy quits as he wants to impress the girl having shown her the character (37). However, she never sees his action as she leaves. This is another identification of the differences in class. Sammy is sure that she is going to wait for him, like he would do in her place. However, he treats the situation from the position of his class. She lives in the other world, where people do not care much for others and think only about themselves. This action is very bright in the meaning of personal perception and understanding of what one should achieve and what he should do. The movie shot on the basis of this story helps to see these thoughts on the face of Sammy (A & P, 2001).
In the interview with Updike, the author of the story highlights social differences of the main characters. John Updike in his ‘A&P Essay’ also points that Sammy understands the reasons why he is not going to be the hero. Social difference is too big and this understanding may be the first step on Sammy’s way higher. In “Testing the limits of what I know and feel” (2005) John Updike says that being uneducated, Sammy was also limited with the grocery he worked into. The incorrectly written sentence in the beginning of the story (Updike, 2013) and the routine ritual of marking the time on the worksheet in the movie (A & P, 2001) are the main pointers on Sammy’s position in the society. The presence of a beautiful girl with brilliant manners only highlights his position.
- A & P. Dir. Bruce R. Schwartz. Perf. Amy Smart and Sean Hayes. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 2001. Film.
- Updike, John. Testing the limits of what I know and feel. NPR 18 Apr. 2005. Web. 7 Sept. 2013.
- Hatcher, Nathan. Sammy’s Motive. Ode to Friendship & Other Essays. Ed. Connie Bellamy. Norfolk, Virginia: 1996. 37-38.
- Updike, John. A&P Essay. Hub Pages. Web. 7 Sept. 2013.
- Updike, John. A&P. Web. 7 Sept. 2013.
- Updike, John. Personal interview. 2009. Web. 7 Sept. 2013.