A&P and Other Stories

Three Bikinis and a Pyramid of Diet Delight Peaches: An Analysis of the Six Basic Elements of Fiction in John Updike’s “A & P” College

 The literary genre of fiction is immense and staggeringly diverse, yet it is unified by six basic elements. The deconstruction and analysis of each of these components yields a richer appreciation for the work being explored. The basic elements of fiction are: plot, point of view, character, setting, symbol, and theme. John Updike expertly utilizes each of these aspects in his short story “A & P” in order to construct an utterly unified and complex work of fiction. “A & P” recounts the effect three girls have on the narrator, Sammy, when they walk into the downtown A & P and defy social norms by wearing nothing but bathing suits. Their bold display, when it is met with reproach and condemnation, inspires Sammy to follow their lead and reject his accepted place in society. Through analysis of the basic elements of fiction, the rich significance that abounds in Updike’s short story “A & P” is illuminated and clarified.            

The author’s use of plot focuses the reader’s attention and provides a foundation for the remaining key aspects of fiction. Using the Freytag Pyramid, the plot can be...

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