Finding Identity in John Updike?s A&P

Finding Identity Does breaking the mold and speaking up for what is right always easy when shaping one’s identity? Society places norms that greatly impact someone’s personality, and how they identify as an individual in society. The protagonist in John Updike’s “A&P” is a young man working in a supermarket, who judges all the customers and see’s all the conformity that the store encompasses all while searching to be outside the conformist’s that exist there. John Updike uses Sammy to show through Symbolism the journey to self-identity. This coming of age story stands as a message of empowerment to all future generations. Updike uses the older generation in A&P to symbolize what Sammy does not identify with. It represents for him the …show more content…

Sammy see’s that in the group there is a leader he nicknames her queenie. “She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round. She didn’t look around, not this queen” (149). Sammy recognizes that these two girls are like the people in the A&P that he wants to set himself apart from. The word queen symbolizes great stature, high rank to which others are below her. He chooses to name her this because of how she carries herself with no care about what people are looking at he.. Critic Gilbert Porter brings up a question that ties into the conformity that is expected in the A&P; “Does the attire of the girls satisfy the requirement of “decency” which the policy of the A&P demands?” The answer is no. When Sammy’s manager Lengel see’s these girls he responds by saying “We want you decently dressed when you come in here” (151). Lengel using the word we represented the unity of attitudes of all the people like Lengel that the girls are not “decently” dressed. Sammy finds it amusing but also does not agree with how Lengel treated the girls. As the story progresses Updike uses rich symbolism in reference to individuality, and conformists in A&P. It is given to the reader through Sammy’s perspective. “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle-the girls were walking against the usual traffic (not that we have one-way signs or anything)” (149). Sheep are not very smart animals, as well as easily herded. This reference to customers as .

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Finding Identity in John Updike?s A&P. (2018, Feb 02). Retrieved from