The Setting of John Updike's Short Story "A&P"

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The Global Setting in "A&P" by John Updike

The story A&P by John Updike represents a global setting that is best for a young female to live in. The short story was first published in New York in the year 1961. The 1960s was the period when New York was so determined to achieve education and affluence among the people. Unlike the previous years when the girls were denied the right to education, this is the time when New Yorkers started giving females the chance to acquire education. At around 1961, most people in the region had begun acquiring their own summer houses (Devi $ Lakshmi, 24). The story does not state the exact town where it is set up but by mentioning a small town having a church located North of Boston, one could tell that the town is either in Cape Cod or Maine.

The Activities in the Supermarket

The activities in the story take place in a supermarket which is referred to as A&P. Sammy is one among the workers in the supermarket who gets attracted to three girls who comes to the supermarket dressed in bathing suits, a thing that is not common in that area. He feels that they are a direct representation of freedom that is witnessed in the outside world away from the supermarket (Egloff, Goetz 46). He feels that the manager treats the three girls badly and he is not happy with it. His gesture portrays that it is the high time that the people in the small time stop living in their own world and start appreciating the developments in the wider world.

Benefits of Living in the 60s for Females

There are clear benefits for any female living in the '60s as portrayed in the setting of this story. There are certain rights that females were denied before the '60s but can now confidently enjoy. For instance, it is not until 1960 that women were given the chance to vote. In 1930 for example, women could not vote for their leaders but it is until 1960 that this right was granted to them (Salmon, Marylynn 90). Besides this, before 1960, women did not have their own reproductive freedom. They had no rights to choose their birth control methods. In the year 1968, this is the time when women were given the chance to gain equal job listings. Before then, they could only work in homes and gardens. In the 30s, no matter the kind of job that women did, they could not be paid equal amounts with the men. Women were often disregarded and hence paid poorly. Men felt that women did not deserve an equal share with them.

The Right to Make Independent Decisions

Women in the 30s could not make a decision on their own whether they want to keep a child or procure an abortion. Almost all the decisions had to be made on their behalf. Besides this, they could not have a credit card under their own name. The card would either bear the name of their husbands or father. The situations changed in the 60s and now women could have cards in their names and could make decisions on what they wanted to spend their money with (Gale, Cengage 55). Women acquired the right to work comfortably without discrimination despite being pregnant. This is possibly what Sammy wanted for women. He wanted them to get in and out of the supermarket comfortably without anyone looking down upon them or seeing like it was a big deal. Based on these among other rights, it is clear that the 60s were the best setting that a young female could live in.

Work cited

Devi, K. Lakshmi. "Short Stories Of John Updike A Discursive Study."(2014).

Egloff, Goetz. "Existing in Time: John Updike´ s “The Music School”(1966)."International Journal of Literature and Arts 5.5 (2017): 46.

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for John Updike's"Oliver's Evolution". Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.

Salmon, Marylynn. Women and the law of property in early America. UNC Press Books, 2016.

November 24, 2023

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