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A great deal of criticism has been written on this story, which is Updike's most frequently studied and anthologized short work. There is certainly dramatic irony present in the plot: the central character, Sammy, is a sort of antihero. His actions, when he decides to quit his job publicly as a sort of protest to the treatment of three young female characters, can be seen as noble or heroic on several levels. He is standing up for the young women, and thereby acting with gallantry and chivalry. He is also acting heroically because he is acting against a perceived injustice. As well, he is acting heroically by refusing to let himself be exploited in a cruel, tyrannical workplace. But all of these heroic qualities are not fully realized, since Sammy's action is also impulsive, foolhardy and probably damaging to his immediate social and financial situation. Some critics have also noted the story's reference to the painting "The Birth of Venus" and in this way, Sammy is also a romantic hero, one who holds a pure and noble appreciation of female beauty.
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