A&P and Other Stories

Shopping for Principles at the A&P 12th Grade

It is of little coincidence that John Updike’s A&P occurs in one of America’s most well-known supermarket chains where, “sheep pushing their carts down the aisle” search for the best bargains, and customers give “hell” over a few pennies (Updike 187). Perhaps A&P illustrates the way in which capitalist societies push us to our limits, turning us into nothing more than factory workers. Such is the case for Sammy, who day by day goes “through the punches” of tedious cash register work, while the unappreciative bourgeoisie fail to realize his job is “more complicated than you think;” the strains of this slave-like life turn Sammy into a type of machine, who sadly hears songs in the beeps and chirps of his cash register (Updike 194). While some may believe Sammy’s heroic gesture of quitting is: “meaningless and . . . arises from selfish rather than unselfish impulses,” I believe his action was more of an awakening to the American class system, where people such as Queenie – who live up to our prima-donna images of women, are still ostracized by the establishment symbolized in Lengel (Uphaus qtd. in McFarland 97). While it is true that Sammy...

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