Character Of Sammy In John Updike?S ?A&P? Essay, Research Paper
Sammy: Hero or Anti-Hero
There are two types of heroes; heroes and anti-heroes. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life is a hero. Similar to Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus. A main character in a dramatic or narrative work that is characterized by a lack of traditional heroic qualities, such as idealism or courage is an anti-hero. I believe this resembles our character Sammy in John Updike?s short story ?A&P?. Sammy is an anti-hero because he is an ordinary person who is directionless, and perplex.
Updike begins the story ?with three youthful girls wearing bathing suits entering the A&P, while young is Sammy working behind the register. There Sammy and the other cashier Stokes marvel at one of the girls Updike represented as Queenie. Sammy obliviously like her, and begins flirting with her. Then all of the sudden, the store manager Mr. Lengel saw the girls and became livid, because of there skimpy bathing suits. He approached the girls and told them they have to either put clothing on or leave. The girls politely left after a little argument. But Mr. Lengel was still angry by their rudeness that he started taking his frustration out on Sammy. Who reached deep inside himself and said, ?I quit.?(A&P 12) Which shows that Sammy is a hero, but the question is what type.
Sammy lacks traditional heroic traits, but does posses the most important characteristic, courage. The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fears, and acts out bravery. This enables him to walk up to his boss and say, ?I quit?. Allowing Sammy the opportunity to face his fears and go searching for Queenie.
One main obstacle that separates Sammy from being a Hero is the fact he is ordinary. Hero?s are well-noted people like Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Jesus. ?Sammy is a common person working at the local A&P behind the cash register waiting to ring up the next customer.? (A&P 13) This distinguishes him from the heroes who gave speeches at Lincoln Memorial, preached in front of millions on a mountaintop, and sign doctrines that free the slaves. All Sammy did is tell his boss ?I quit?.
Another obstacle that hinders Sammy from being a hero is that he is directionless. While heroes generally are presidents, religious heroes, national champions, and political leaders that realized there purposes and attempted to excel at them. ?Sammy does not know where he is going when he walked out aimlessly out of the A&P in search of his dream to be with Queenie.?(A&P 16) This brings him closer to the bracket of an anti-hero, because he does not fit the stereotypical mold of a hero.
Sammy does not fit the stereotypical mold of a hero, because he is perplexed. He is uncertain on what he is going to do. Unlike the heroes of today like Kurt Warner who won the Super Bowl or Mario Lemeuix who returned to hockey after being out for 3 ? years. They were certain on their destiny while ?young Sammy was bewildered on what would happen if he went to his boss and say ?I quit.?(A&P 16)
It is a forgone conclusion that Sammy is a hero, but the question was ?what type?. It seems to me that it is safe to assume that Sammy is an anti-hero, because he is ordinary, directionless and perplex person.
Updike, John. ?A&P?. Literature. Ed. X.J. Kennedy, Dana
Gioia. New York: New York N.Y., 2000. 12-17