A & P by John Updike

This paper is a detailed review of John Updike’s classic story, A & P, which the paper’s author feels is a tribute to two Greek motifs, the heroic epiphany and the power of beauty.

This paper describes the story: Sammy, the narrator, explains what possessed him so suddenly to quit his job at the local supermarket. The author thinks that there is an undercurrent of satire in this story as the noble characters of Paris and Venus are placed inside a brightly lit
A & P, and the events turn not on a mythical golden apple but rather on a jar of herring. The paper discusses that beauty spurs the hero to action, but unlike stories of old, Sammy is left with his principles and his confused desire but little else.
“While Sammy first eyes the girls as a teenage male, the poet inside him comes forth to justify his desire, especially for the one whom he names Queenie. She is the confident one and clearly the leader of the three by regard of her confidence and beauty. “She was the queen. She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round. She didn’t look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima-donna legs. But despite the lust in his own nineteen-year-old heart, Sammy is disgusted, by both the leering butcher and the manager who embarrasses the girl and her companions about their improper dress. For Sammy, insulting the girls, especially Queenie, is akin to calling Botticelli’s work pornographic. It is with regard to this last insult, that Sammy takes his stand and quits his job on the spot, much the same as Paris renounced his family by choosing love above all else when he could have had wisdom or the whole world as offered by the other two goddesses.