A&P Individualism

961 words 4 pages
Self-Expression and Individualism
In "A&P" by John Updike it is shown that conformism is a major part of society in that time. In the story everything is like a well-oiled machine, but when three girls’ walks into the "A&P" store all of this changes for Sammy. A theme that is predominant in the short story by Updike is individualism shown by the girls and how Sammy responds to the events in the story. It is clear in the story that individualism wasn't a dominant trait in people. Sammy saw people as “sheep pushing their down the aisle” (Updike 6)
In "A&P" there are obvious sign of uniqueness and self-expression. Even when Sammy defies Lengel on how he treats the girls it shows individualism by not conforming to society “Lengel...teaches
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“”Girls, I don’t want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered. It’s our policy.””, and Sammy thinks to himself, “That’s policy for you. Policy is what the kingpins want. What others want is juvenile delinquency” (Updike 7). This partly foreshadows that Sammy is going to speak up for himself and have some self-expression as it seems in the story that Sammy doesn’t speak his mind any. He just does his job and doesn’t have quarrels with anyone. Sammy’s rebellion and individualistic ideals ultimately leads to his downfall and his stubbornness towards conformity proves his individuality. A main over-arching theme of “A&P” by John Updike could most definitely be individualism. Both the girls and Sammy are main protagonists in the story that give a sense of individuality. They both have a rebellious aura about them and Sammy’s is shown through the confrontation with Lengel. Sammy can’t conform to society and just lazily glides along how society does things until three girls finally inspire him to stop being like a machine and express yourself like how the three girls walk in the A&P store in just their bathing suits. Even in the end Sammy is almost relieved of getting out of A&P with Lengel’s “face dark gray and his back stiff, as if he’d just had an injection of iron, and [Sammy’s] stomach kind of fell as [he] felt how hard the world was going to be” (Updike 8). He sees Lengel as

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