Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

In the short story “A & P”, John Updike explains how Sammy is a young man working as a cashier. One day three young ladies come into the supermarket half dressed wearing only their swimsuits. Sammy is intrigued by these young women, along with everyone else in the supermarket. Sammy watches their every move, as the girls made their selections. Sammy tries to play the hero at the end of the story; however he may have been his own worst enemy.
Sammy describes the three girls in great detail throughout the story. “The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece. 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” (496). Sammy refers to the next young lady as, ” one with chubby berry-faces, the lips all bunched together under her nose, this one, and a tall one, with black hair that hadn’t quite frizzed right, and one of these sunburns right across under the eyes, and a chin that was too long-you know, the kind of girl 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” (497). Last but not least, there was “Queenie”. “She didn’t look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima donna legs. She came down a little hard on her heels, as if she didn’t walk in her bare feet that much” (497). He had nothing better else to do than to day dream about the three young ladies, and ponder what to do next. “From the third slot I look straight up this aisle to the meat counter, and I watched them all the way” (498). It was a small town with not much to do. Sammy was not trying to make a career out of working at the A & P supermarket.

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