John Updike a&P
December 5, 2012 Ignorance is Bliss Every day we go on with our usual routines, not often noticing our admirers, or certain passers-by. In life, there are many unsung heroes; most go unnoticed and also innocent and naive. These qualities are often taken for granted and abused. Innocence is not ignorance; however it lacks knowledge in the same manner. We are ignorant of our innocence until we realize that it has left us. It is based more on naivety or rather, the lack of experience we have.
In John Updike’s “A&P” the innocent of a young man’s breakthrough in a local grocery store from his blindness of daily routines in order to shed some light onto part of reality that he has been missing. This loss of innocence, and being a part time hero is a realization of such a loss of wanting to be rebellious, Such as the main character Sammy in the short story A&P . Sammy had the same day-in, day-out job that many people before him had and many more will continue to have. The job was a way of life for him. He didn’t like the work, but he needed the occasional and sparse paychecks.
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Throughout the course of Sammy’s job at the A&P, he noticed and observed many different types of interesting people. One day, in the midst of Sammy’s monotonous pounding of cash register keys at his check-out slot; his eyes wandered off and gazed at three striking young girls that walked into the A&P. These three girls walk into “A&P” like if they were the Bee’s knee’ swearing only bathing suits and immediately catching the eye of a young, nineteen year old named Sammy. The girls and Sammy are innocent yet in different ways.
The girls seemed to be different to Sammy as they looked and acted as though they did not live in his town. The girls were ignorant of Sammy’s local culture as they seemingly had spent the day at the beach, and had not lived in his town nor spent much time in it at all. “The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two pieces. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs”. He pushes open the drawer to hear it say “pee-pul”(491) one last time. “Did you say something Sammy”tm”I said I quit. “”We are decent,”tm Queenie says suddenly”getting sore now that she remembers her place, a place from which the crowd that runs the AP must look pretty crummy”(490). Sammy admits this is true, but he still feels he must because “remembering how he made the pretty girl blush makes me feel so scrunchy inside”(491). Sammy remarks about the girls tan lines “two crescents of white. He is looking at part of them not intended to be seen. They felt the girls saw themselves as above reproach because of their high social status. so all around the top of the cloth there was this shining rim”(488).
His face was dark gray and his back stiff”my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter. Updike is calling our attention to this confrontation. These descriptions of various observations in the A P clearly show that Through his descriptionUpdike sees the world and its people as a cluster of conformists, afraid of change. Everybody follows the rules; scared to find out what happens when someone steps outside of the boundaries. The first of these instances is when he views the customers continuing to push their carts down the aisle only glancing slightly at the girls and continuing to shop. 25)The song Sammy hears by the register as he rings up a purchase represents his detachment from his job”tms dull routine. Sammy “bets you could set off dynamite in an A P and the people would by large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering””(Updike, pg. Sammy refers to the shoppers as “sheep” (Updike, pg. This suggests that Sammy has worked at the store for a while and finds his job”tms daily routine to now be monotonous. The second time is when the girls go to the checkout lane and Lengel starts to explain the policy.
Updike believes that the individual should do what is right for himself and not what others think he or she should do. Unlike sheep, Queenie and the other girls refuse to obey the rules and find comfort in being outsiders. Updike”tms uniform society still exists beneath the surface, and no single person can guide enough people to make a change. Through his description of the A P, Updike shows the boredom of Sammy”tms job, “” the cool of the A P, under the fluorescent lights, against all those stacked packages”checker-board green-and-cream rubber-tile floor”(Updike, pg. The three girls are unique in Sammy”tms view because they do not