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What is a popular song that parallels Sammy's character in John Updikess short story ...

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maka13 | Honors

Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:52 AM via web

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What is a popular song that parallels Sammy's character in John Updikess short story  "A & P"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 18, 2012 at 2:37 AM (Answer #1)

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John Updike's short story "A & P" considers many of the themes central to adolescence such as impetuosity, maturation, choices and consequences, and individualism.  Sammy, the narrator and main character, works in a grocery store where he is exposed to the citizens of the adult world. His growing cynicism of this world is apparent in his comments about the "few house slaves in curlers" and the 

women with six children and varicose veins mapping their legs and nobody, including them, could care less.

Sammy's perception of these people is that they have lost their pride and sense of individuality as they wander the store blankly and "knock against each other like scared pigs in a chute" as they come to Sammy's checkout line.

In contrast to these "sheep," Sammy perceives the three girls, who enter the store clad only in their bathing suits, in the romantic light of carnal attraction and admiration for their individuality. In a romantic urge, Sammy decides to extend his chivalric gesture of defying the authority of his boss in order to defend the girls; however, after he is fired and leaves the stores he finds to his disillusionment that the girls are gone. Then, Sammy's stomach falls "as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.

Two songs from the same era as the publishing of Updike's story that may fit Sammy's character are "Hot Summer Night" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals" whose first verse parallels Sammy's attraction to the girls:

The mercury's rising
And there ain't no disguising
What you do do do do to me

Then, in Glenn Yarborough's Song "Baby the Rain Must Fall," the lyrics describe Sammy's character and his "ephiphany" at the story's end:

…Some men climb the mountains

 

Some men swim the seas

Some men fly above the sky

They are what they must be….

I do not love for silver

Ido not love for gold

My heart is mine to give away

It never will be sold….

CHORUS

Baby the rain must fall

Baby the wind must blow

Wherever my heart leads me

Baby I must go

Baby I must go.

 

Sources:

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