A&P by John Updike

Although Short, "A & P" is Big on Enjoyment

I enjoy stories that are long and involved. However, the short story "A & P" by John Updike is a wonderful exception to this rule. Updike writes the story from a viewpoint of what I believe to be a younger, more contemporary person. The story contains many other enjoyable attributes, such as the comments about young girls’ flesh. I found the story to be a good read and although I typically don’t like stories that are short and uninvolved, I was able to gain a lot of enjoyment from this work.

The story begins with little-to-no foreshadowing and doesn’t enlighten the reader until about half way through the piece. All of the sudden, the reader is cast into an "A & P" grocery store in what I would think to be the late 1950’s. Although undocumented, the writer gives details that point to this time period. I didn’t think I would enjoy the story because it doesn’t provide much background information on anything. However, as I began to read the story I was able to create background information of my own which changed my opinion about the story altogether.

I found the work to be enjoyable in other ways as well. I got the impression that the main character was a younger fellow. His comments and actions sounded more immature than mature, so I was able to relate more closely to the work. I found that there were many thought processes that are similar to an adolescent boys, rather than to a more experienced adult. A good example of this can be seen toward the end of paragraph 2 when he gives his interpretation of what happens in a girls mind. He makes a simile to a bee buzzing in a glass jar. A mature person would never make a statement that is so thoughtless. I enjoyed it very much.

I’m able to make a few emotional connections to Sammy, the main character, as well.. In the story, there are many clues that point to him as a girl watcher / admirer. I tend to think that all gentlemen at that age and maturity level feel similar ways toward the opposite sex. In the passage, "...you know, the kind of girl the other girls think is
very ‘striking’ and ‘attractive’ but never quite makes it, as they very well know, which is why they like her so much..." (63), it can be seen that he is an experienced girl watcher. Careful observation is the only way a guy could reasonably know what the other could be thinking.

I think that overall the story did a very good job of bringing me into the store. I felt like a first hand participant in the antics. I was able to sympathize with the main character and I was able to connect with him as well. As I said, I typically don’t enjoy shorter stories, although I’m glad that I made an exception by reading
"A & P".

Category: English