A&P and Model’s Assistant

Beauty on the Job After reading two short stories, “A&P” by John Updike, and “Model’s Assistant” from “Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls” by Alissa Nutting one could see that there are both similarities and differences within the two stories. Both stories have underlying themes of beauty and job stress. They both may have different settings and take place in separate areas but they are more similar than different. In John Updike’s “A&P”, the lead character Sammy encounters unusual beauty within the A&P store for his first time. A group of three girls come strolling into the A&P in their bathing suits.

These girls are very different from the average group of people that come walking into the store on a daily basis. This story is set in a boring New England town fairly far away from any beaches, which makes their attire very noticeable to the store employees. Sammy calls the average people that come into the A&P “sheep”, but describes these girls as much different and notices the beauty of one of the girls in the group. He calls her “Queenie”. Sammy says “– and then the third one, that wasn’t quite so tall. She was the queen. She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round.

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She didn’t look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima donna legs. She came down a little hard on her heels, as if she didn’t walk in her bare feet that much, putting down her heels and then letting the weight move along to her toes as if she was testing the floor with every step, putting a little deliberate extra action into it. ” (Updike, 1) As one can see, beauty is a main focus within this short story. In Alissa Nutting’s “Model’s Assistant” the focus on beauty comes up as well. The main character, the narrator, ends up meeting another girl, Garla, from “model-land” as she says.

The narrator first speaks of Garla and her beauty after she first meets her. The narrator says: “but then I saw a great flash and there she was, the camera’s light bouncing off her translucent thigh, her foot inside the host’s tropical aquarium. Everyone wanted a shot of her leather bondage shoe surrounded by fake coral: people were holding up cell phones and professional equipment and thin digital cameras, “Tickle fish,” Garla was saying to everyone, and there was simply no way I could have that amount of attention suddenly focus over to my own body, even if I was waving a phone that belonged to the darling of their affections. (Nutting. 19-20) Throughout this short story the narrator’s life and focus changes from that of being a “nerd” to being Garla, the “model’s”, assistant. She enjoys the life of a model and being able to help out and follow in Garla’s footsteps. In turn, Garla brings the narrator everywhere with her and they both get free clothes, drinks, and many other things just because of their beauty. In both “A&P” and “Model’s Assistant” one can see the similar theme of job stress. In “A&P” Sammy doesn’t like the way that the three girls were treated by Lengel, his store manager.

Sammy, after seeing the beauty in his normally dull environment, not only realizes that there is more to life than working in the A&P and that he has a future, but he wants to make a statement to the girls by standing up for them and quitting his job. Sammy quits just as the girls are heading out of the store, after Lengel more or less embarrasses them and approaches them about the way they are dressed in the store. “The girls, and who’d blame them, are in a hurry to get out, so I say “I quit” to Lengel”. (Updike, 5) We also see in “Model’s Assistant” that the narrator first thinks about quitting her job as copyeditor.

She then ends up actually quitting to work for Garla. The narrator’s first thought about quitting comes up when she says: “I keep wondering if Garla will ask me to quit my regular job copyediting and join her full-time in model-land. ” (Nutting, 24) The narrator brings up the idea of working full time as Garla’s assistant and ends up calling into her other job and quitting over the phone. We see this when the narrator says: “Garla,” I say, “I’m going to quit my job and be your assistant. You don’t have to pay me hardly anything. I don’t make very much as it is. (Nutting, 25) Both short stories have themes that are very similar. They both may take place at separate times in different places, but both stories are very much alike. Both Sammy in “A&P” and the narrator in “Model’s Assistant” end up quitting their jobs to be happier because of the beauty that surrounded them. Overall both stories start out a little different but end up more or less the same way. Work Cited Updike, John. “A&P. ” The New Yorker 22 Jul. 1961. Print. Nutting, Alissa. “Model’s Assistant,” Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls. Buffalo: Starcherone Books, 2010: 17-28. Print.

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