John Updike’s A & P.

An analysis of the themes of women’s empowerment and modern vs. traditional American society in John Updike’s A & P.

This paper examines how the short story, A & P by John Updike, chronicles contemporary American society and how it treats issues of social stratification among members of the society. It looks at how, written in the 1960s, A & P provides an insightful look at the dynamics of gender and socio-economic differences of people in American society. It also explores how it discusses issues on social stratification from the viewpoint of Sammy, a young man who works at the store, A & P. In particular, it shows how Sammy’s character is an interesting and essential factor for the issue of social stratification because he serves as Updike’s commentator on sensitive issues, such as gender discrimination on women and the snobbish and oppressive nature of the elite class in the society.
The first theme discussed in the short story is the issue of gender discrimination among women. In the story, Sammy serves as the male chauvinist character, providing an explicit description of the three young women he encounters in the convenience store. Initially, audiences would react at the seemingly sexist comments of Sammy, wherein he looks at the young women’s physical attributes only and making unpleasant remarks at them (through his narration to the reader).