In A & P, John Updike develops his characters through the eyes of the main character, Sammy. Sammy works in a grocery store, and one day he observes three young girls as they come into the store. The whole time they are in the A & P, Sammy describes their appearance, behavior, and his impression of them in great detail. Sammy watches each of the girls as they look around the store, but there is one that catches his attention right as they walk in. He is so busy staring at her that he makes the customer he is ringing up very mad at him.
Sammy describes the young girl as a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft – looking can with those two crescents of white just under it… (Updike, 105). He notices everything about the girl, even down to the fact that she does not have a tan line, so she must have just bought the bright green, two piece, bathing suit. He also notices that she is very conscience of being a little over weight, because she .. fumbled with the cookies, but on second thought she put the packages back(Updike, 106). Sammy describes the next girl as a pretty girl, but not pretty enough to be called beautiful.
He puts great detail in describing her appearance, and describes everything about her, from her long, frizzy hair, to her long neck, and the sunburns underneath her eyes. This girl is the tallest of the three, but he says that while she is the kind of girl other girls think is very ‘striking’ and ‘attractive’ but never quite makes it…. is why they like her so much (Updike, 105). The last girl he describes is the one he thinks is the leader of the three girls, and even calls her the queen (Updike, 105). Sammy describes her as being a very self-assured girl, who is trying to teach the other girls how to be just like her.
He states that she had talked the other two into coming in here with her, and now she was showing them how to do it, walk slow and hold yourself straight (Updike, 106). Sammy goes into the greatest detail describing the character. He talks about the color of her bathing suit, how her straps are pulled down, the style of her hair, and the manner in which she walks across the store. He is very impressed by her, and shows this by saying, … this clean bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light.
I mean, it was more than pretty (Updike, 106). Sammy also shows how impressed he is with her by saying, The longer her neck was, the more of her there was (Updike, 106). Mr. Updike does a great job of developing his characters through the eyes of Sammy. He puts descriptions of the girls’ appearance, behavior, and impressions of them, given to the reader through Sammy’s thoughts. By Sammy describing the girls in such great detail, it lets the reader get to know him as a character just as well as seeing the ones he is describing.