Reading Response to Updike’s Short Story “A&P”- Choices Young Adults Make

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Young adults are known for making instant choices without even thinking of the consequences that may follow after. This is as a result of their weak emotional controls. John Updike's short story, "A&P" is indeed an interesting as well as enjoyable read as it contains a story with a powerful moral lesson to the young adults about making choices. Updike's story teaches us that we have to accept and be ready to face the consequences of our favorites. Although we do not always have good reasons for the decisions we make, it is still important to weigh the significance of choice as well as their consequences. Heroism often prevails in many situations and has proven to be a downfall to many, for instance, Sammy as well as me.

My Personal Experience In relation to Updike’s story “A&P”

One time,  I happened to be in such a situation whereby we disagreed with my school apartment janitor for bringing with me my girlfriend late at night. The janitor restricted her from entrance thus leading to the disagreement. Nevertheless, I chose to disobey and went on forcing her to get in with me and locked the door. The decision was as a result of my emotions and never thought about the consequences which I knew very well. In John Updike's “A&P” story we find a situation where Sammy, a young adult clerk working in A&P grocery allows three young women about his age, barefooted as well as in bathing suits to proceed shopping as he appraised them sexually (Roberts 320). This was wrong; as a result, Lengel the manager admonishes the three young women as he views their dressing inappropriate. Sammy, on the other hand, regards it as an embarrassment to the girls, which renders him offended. This results in his immediate resignation as an effort to seek appreciation and affection from the young women. Unfortunately, the women had left unmindful of his actions. It is now that he had to face the consequences of his actions, that is, losing his job as well as being a disgrace to his parents.

Lessons On Choices From Updike's Story

I strongly agree with Updike's theme for the short story following my personal experience with the janitor. In particular, I had to be expelled from the apartment for breaking the rules. This was a great embarrassment not only to me but also to my girlfriend and my parents. Therefore, for us to stay away from trouble that may prevail for long-term, we need to think first before acting. Similarly, Sammy chose to advocate for a petty thing he believed in briefly that Lengel his manager was offensive to some petty young women who came in bathing suits- which is genuinely inappropriate in such a business premise (Roberts 320). Following his actions and choice, Sammy lost his job from his absurd attempt at courtliness and rebellion. I believe this one situation impacted him on a long-term basis that would make him tell the story deeming it as a sad one indeed. Similarly, the three young ladies chose of going against the rules and thus lead to their embarrassment as Lengel the manager yelled at them and also most probably, they would not be allowed back in the business place.

Updike's story also tries to bring out the point that men are not supposed to give up that much for women. In particular, the "A&P" story expresses men being above women. It can be noted that the three young women in bathing suits are only viewed well for their bodies and nothing else. Furthermore, other women in the story are barely given a voice except after a man is provided a chance though irrelevant at the focal point of the story. John Updike seems to have a belief that women are only good for pleasure. Moreover, it is evident that Sammy would have never lost his job were it not for standing for the rights of women in the story. He regrets having quit his career for the reason that did not even satisfy his needs. In my perspective, I agree that men should not always give up so much and easily for women, without considering what may follow after that (Roberts 320). Supporting this from my personal experience, I also prioritized my girlfriend for the consequences of breaking the rules of the apartment, which lead to greater regrets. However, I disagree with the way Updike's tries to render women as tools for pleasure alone. Women are of much crucial than just fun, in fact, their rights should always be upheld except where they extremely cross the boundaries intentionally, and their rescue would cause more harm than good.

From Updike's story and my personal experience as well, it is appropriate to conclude that it is always best to think about the consequences of an action before deciding to execute it. We have seen what Sammy's careless choice lead to. Similarly, my personal experience with the janitor taught me a harsh lesson that I would not like anyone else to pass through. Finally, in as much as women rights need to be upheld, one need to think first about the situation and make a wise decision regarding the action. This way we shall be free from petty trouble that may haunt one for the rest of his/her life.

Works Cited

Porter, M. Gilbert. "John Updike's" A&P": The Establishment and an Emersonian Cashier." The English Journal 61.8 (1972): 1155-1158.

Roberts, Edgar V. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Compact Edition. Longman, 2014.

August 21, 2023




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