John Updike’s short story “A&P” explores the theme reality. The story centers on Sammy, a nineteen-year old grocery store worker. Queenie is a beautiful young girl. Sammy sees her as attractive and she entices Sammy to make an opportunistic decision. Unfortunately, it ends badly for him. His entire life is turned upside-down. Updike shows Sammy’s disloyalty, impulsivity and thoughtlessness in “A&P.”
Sammy’s choice to choose Queenie’s physical appearance, and her initial impression that she is a sweetheart, can be seen as typical of a young boy. Sammy said, “I’m not going to quit Lengel fast enough to make them hear…their undiscovered hero.” Sammy is clearly trying to impress girls with his decision to quit. He is unable to think clearly and this makes the likely consequences of him making this decision more difficult. You can see his disloyalty in leaving behind a job that was meaningful to his family. Lengel, his store manager is also there. Lengel, the store manager. Updike’s Sammy says that it is fatal to abandon a gesture once it has been initiated. Queenie’s friends and Sammy end up leaving. Sammy then realizes that his decision of quitting was futile. Lengel tries then to get Sammy to give up by reminding Sammy about the feelings of his parents. Sammy realises that Lengel is correct and that he is feeling guilty, but his pride is not allowing him to change his decision. He accepts that he made a gesture for the “my girls” and that it was wrong. Sammy has become irritable and it is starting to show in his behavior. Sammy makes the right decisions and realizes that Queenie’s initial task was not a success. Sammy says that he felt the pain of the future. Sammy quit, and Sammy came to terms with the things he had done. Sammy looks around the shop and sees Lengel performing Sammy’s work. Sammy is caught between his secure, comfortable past and his uncertain, spurned future. Sammy’s unconsciousness is revealed when he realizes his true intentions. However, he was not trying to harm anyone or himself. His abrupt decision-making has lead him to an unnoticed, conclusively unemployed place. Readers will be able to see Sammy’s personality traits as impulsive, disloyal, and thoughtless through the eyes of Updike. Sammy ends up homeless and invisible to Queenie, her friends and family. This shows readers and Sammy how one choice can ultimately impact your future. Sammy’s hidden talents can be seen by those who judge him based only on their first impressions.