"A & P" by John Updike portrays the disaffection of the main character Sammy, a store clerk in the A & P store, as he watches three girls who come into the store who belong to an economic class above him. He tries to impress them by standing up for them. The three girls come to the store wearing only bathing suits, and after the store manager harasses them for it, Sammy quits.Continue Reading
Sammy hopes that the girls overhear when he stands up for them by quitting. He hopes they notice him and perhaps engage with him, giving him an entry into their world, which he imagines by the way they talk and act as one much more sophisticated and advanced than his own limited world. Sammy notices the girls as soon as they walk into the store, and his rapt attention to their bodies and bathing suits expresses his lust for them.
After other workers in the store express sexual desire for the girls in a way that Sammy considers much more crass and base, Sammy's desire for the girls becomes more symbolic of the desire to escape his limited world and join theirs. Unfortunately, Sammy's gesture of quitting goes unnoticed by the girls, and Sammy is left alone in the parking lot.Learn more about Literature