Reality Bites Essay, Research Paper
Life seems to always be about trial and error. Making mistakes is a big part of growing up. Nevertheless, as mistakes are made, there are always valuable lessons to be learned. John Updike illustrates this point, as he guides us through a day in the life of Sammy , the central character in the story, A&P. John Updike teaches the reader about growing up, as he develops Sammy s character through phases of innocence, experiences, and finally understanding.
It is just another ordinary day at the local A&P, found in a small town north of Boston.
Sammy, a cashier, is just another ordinary kid going about his daily routine at work. Then, out of nowhere comes in three girls. These three girls are obviously strangers to the local town. However, Sammy s interest is sparked by one of the girls in particular, Queenie, the leader of the three. According to Sammy, the three girls carry in an air of class and style, unlike the average A&P shoppers. To say the least, these girls stand out in the crowd. This seems to make everyone, including the store manager, Lengel, uncomfortable. Everyone, except for Sammy. Sammy continues to be intrigued by the mysterious strangers. At this point, Sammy begins to feel that he may be missing out on something in life and decides to step out of his comfortable bubble and into a whole new world of the unknown.
As the author begins the story, the reader is given a clear picture of Sammy s innocence. The character s innocence is illustrated at first, in the way he responds to these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. These girls represent the outside world to Sammy, even a slight bit of rebellion, considering the small bubble that Sammy lives in. These girls, especially Queenie, were most definitely foreign to the small bubble that Sammy and the others lived in. As Queenie purchases Fancy Herring Snacks , Sammy knew right then that she and her three friends were not like the other sheep , which is how he referred to the standard A&P shoppers. This is exactly what intrigues Sammy s innocent interest.
John Updike makes it obvious to the reader that Sammy is quite unexperienced in life. Living in a small town with his parents and working for close family friends, Sammy s life is one boring story. Especially on this particular Thursday afternoon in the practically empty A&P. No risks, no challenges, no excitement, therefore no new experiences. Queenie, on the other hand, becomes a challenge and a risk to Sammy. There is always a sense of excitement found in the unfamiliar. Silently, Sammy finds himself infatuated with this new experience.
There is a simple yet complex understanding of life, that Sammy lacks. In the midst of wearing shirts still ironed by his mother, life has neglected to give him the experiences to have this understanding. He is very naive to what the world is really like. As Sammy finally makes the decision to throw in his bow tie and apron, he has a very idealistic view of what lies ahead of him. Once again, he is ignorant to the truth and reality of life. Leaving the store, which represents the old monotonous life in his bubble, Sammy expects a new world of adventure, excitement, and most importantly Queenie. To his surprise, he is left with nothing but a sick feeling as ….[he] [feels] how hard the world [is] going to be to [him] hereafter.
The grass is always greener on the other side , although cliche, seems to be most appropriate to illustrate Updike s point at the end of the story. Sammy realizes that the world isn t as bright and inviting as it seems. However, as Sammy begins to experience this new world of trial and error, growth and maturity begins to take place. As the author proceeds to develop the character, the reader is able to see this clear process of maturation in the life of Sammy, through the individual phases of innocence, experiences, and understanding.