A&P is narrated from the point of view of Sammie, who is a 19-year-old boy working as a cashier at the A&P. Most of Updike’s story is told in the present tense, which creates a sense of immersion as if Sammie is talking. However, his point of view is rather limited and romanticized than realistic, because as a typical teenager, Sammie thinks adults to be sheep and followers and views them from the youthful reaction of repulsion. The boy’s cynical observations about the spirit of conformity of his customers make the story sounds rather humorous to me, especially with Sammie’s voice being sometimes pedestrian and sometimes poetic.
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To me, Updike’s A&P is so effectively told because the tone, Sammie’s point of view, and his rich and grammatically wrong language are so appropriate with the main topic of the story, which is initiation. It is the boy’s cynicism towards the manager’s words, as well as his romantic efforts to gain the attention of the girls, make Sammie says that he quits. Though the manager says that the boy will have regrets for such a decision until the end of his life, Sammie ignores this due to his childish outburst.
In the beginning, the boy seems to be only complaining about conformity. Although at the end of the story, he decides to protest against this conformity and dullness by quitting his job and thus expressing solidarity with the girls. Therefore, over the course of the story, Sammie moves from whining about what he considers to be a problem to actually doing something about it. However, as he stands outside having quit his job, Sammie realizes the world will be tough to him hereafter. I think that this was an initiation of Sammie into the complex adult world full of conformity and the need for compromise.