Author Question: How fully does Updike draw the character of Sammy? What traits(admirable or otherwise) does Sammy ...  (Read 1734 times)

notis

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How fully does Updike draw the character of Sammy? What traits(admirable or otherwise) does Sammy show? Is he any less a hero for wanting the girls to notice his heroism? To what extent is he more thoroughly and fully portrayed than the doctor in Godfather Death?
 
  What will be an ideal response?

Question 2

Notice how artfully Updike arranges details to set the story in a perfectly ordinary supermarket. What details stand out for you as particularly true to life?
 
  What does this close attention to detail contribute to the story?

nital

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Answer to Question 1

Sammy isnt sophisticated, but he is sometimes witty and always observant. He comes from a family of proletarian beer drinkers and thinks martinis are garnished with mint. His feelings for the girls begin with lustful admiration for their beauty and unconventional behavior, but this soon turns to pity, since he believes the girls did not intend to foster such a judgmental response from strangers. Then he feels elated when they decide to check out at his register, which turns to anger at his manager for the unjust humiliation they undergo. That he wants to be admired for his heroism only makes his character more realistic and human. His motives for doing so are deeper than just wanting the girls attention. Sammy considers that his boss knows his parents, and realizes his act may warrant their disapproval.


Unlike the doctor in Godfather Death, the reader experiences the pleasure of hearing Sammys own thoughts consistently throughout A & P. We sympathize with Sammy, in part, because we are offered so many insights into his personality and humanity. We experience his passage from boyhood to manhood, and we share his painful realization in the final paragraph. In Godfather Death, we are only given two moments of insight into the doctors thoughts: once when he defies Death to save the King, and again when he rebels to save the Kings daughter. Although we sympathize when he fell into the hands of Death, it is so predictable that we wonder why he didnt see it coming. Sammys final realization is raw and surprising. We see Sammys strengths and weaknesses from a psychological perspective that is completely absent from Godfather Death, as it is from most fairy tales, fables, and legends.



Answer to Question 2

The details of this perfectly ordinary supermarket are clear from the beginning, and there are several humorous descriptions, such as when the three girls walk up the cat-and-dog-foodbreakfast-cereal-macaroni-rice-raisins-seasonings-spreads-spaghetti-soft-drinkscrackers-and-cookies aisle (par. 5). As with most grocery stores, the placement of certain items on a particular aisle seems misplaced or illogical. Later in that same paragraph, Sammy aptly describes the way people mutter in a grocery store, completely engrossed with their lists, when he speculates, I bet you could set off dynamite in an A & P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering Let me see, there was a third thing, began with A, asparagus, no, ah, yes, applesauce (par. 5).
The store is far away from any beach or swimming pool (five miles away according to paragraph 10), so the girls bathing suits draw a great deal of notice from Sammy and the other customers. His detailed analysis of what theyre wearing and their body size, as well as his lustful comparisons as he tries to decide which of the three is the prettiest, is certainly true to real life. All these vivid descriptions help the reader not only picture the grocery store, but also demonstrate Sammys personality and worldview.

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