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”.