A&P by John Updike: Sammy and Queenie Character Analysis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 617 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Words: 617|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

In the short story, “A&P,” the author, John Updike, he develops the theme of reality. The story is in the sense of coming of age in which nineteen-year-old Sammy, the protagonist, is a worker at the local grocery store. An extremely appealing – in Sammy’s eyes – young girl, Queenie, comes into the store with her friends who also are physically attractive, and attracts Sammy to make a chivalrous decision which concludes negatively – he is left unnoticed. Leaving his life to be turned upside down. In “A&P,” Updike uses Queenie and the girls to reveal Sammy’s true character of being disloyal, impulsive and thoughtless.

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Sammy can be seen as being a typical young boy, in the fact that he chooses Queenie’s physical looks and her initial impression of being a sweetheart, over his current job. Sammy states, “I say ‘I quit’ to Lengel quick enough for them to hear…their unsuspected hero”. It seems to be that Sammy’s immediate goal in quitting is to impress the girls. His reasons for going through with it and the likely consequences of his decision are more complex because of his lack of thought. One can notice his characteristic of being disloyal, in the fact that he is leaving behind a job that is meaningful not just to him but his parents. Along with Lengel, the store manager. This unexpected but strong characteristic brings out another side of Sammy that readers – and even characters in the book – may have never suspected.

In representation of his impulsive actions, Sammy leads to his decision to quit because he wants to pursue Queenie allows him to end up with the opposite of what he desires. Updike expresses through Sammy, “But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it’s fatal not to go through with it”. Queenie and her friends end up leaving, which allows Sammy to then realize his decision to quit was pointless. Lengel then tries to talk Sammy out of quitting by reminding him of how his parents will feel. Although Sammy realizes what Lengel is saying is true, and the impression of guilt arising in him, his sense of pride doesn’t allow him to change his mind. He comes to terms with the fact that he has made a gesture in favor of those he referred to as “my girls,” and giving up on his decision is wrongful. Sammy’s quick-temperedness has left him in a place where it begins to affect him negatively, in a viewed manner.

Realizing his decisions, Sammy comes to terms with his thoughtlessness and arrogance in that his initial task to impress Queenie failed. Sammy reveals, “I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter”. With Sammy quitting, the story ends with Sammy coming to terms with what he has now done to himself. He takes a look into the shop and notices Lengel doing Sammy’s job. Sammy then finds himself caught in the middle of his convenient, secure past and a questionable, spurn future. Seeing Sammy realize his attribute of unconsciousness, shows that his true intentions were not to cause harm to anyone nor himself but with him being abrupt in his decision making he has led himself to a place where he is unnoticed and conclusively, unemployed.

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Allowing readers to see how Updike illustrates Sammy, developing his personality traits of being disloyal, impulsive and thoughtless, enlightens the various effects it can have on a person. Seeing Sammy end up without a job and invisible in Queenie and her friends’ eyes also shows readers – along with Sammy himself – how one decision could ultimately affect your future. Making his judgments based on first impressions, one can see Sammy’s hidden colors.

Works Cited:

  1. Orwell, G. (1931). A Hanging. The Adelphi, 8(3), 153-157.
  2. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2010). George Orwell’s “A Hanging”. Infobase Publishing.
  3. Carrington, M. (2018). George Orwell’s A Hanging and Other Essays. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  4. Glover, S. (2017). George Orwell’s A Hanging: A Study Guide. Total Class Notes.
  5. Hitchens, C. (2002). Why Orwell Matters. Basic Books.
  6. Johnson, P. (2018). George Orwell: A Life in Letters. Liveright Publishing.
  7. Meyers, J. (2000). George Orwell: The Critical Heritage. Routledge.
  8. Packer, G. (2013). The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  9. Stansky, P., & Abrahams, W. (1998). The Unknown Orwell. Overlook Press.
  10. Woodcock, G. (1983). The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
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A&P By John Updike: Sammy And Queenie Character Analysis. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
“A&P By John Updike: Sammy And Queenie Character Analysis.” GradesFixer, 10 Dec. 2020,
A&P By John Updike: Sammy And Queenie Character Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
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