Why does Sammy quit his job in "A &P"? What are the factors that lead up to this action?
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Sammy is a nineteen year old boy who works in the A & P supermarket. One day a trio of girls, dressed only in bathing suits, comes into the store and Sammy cannot keep his eyes off of them. They, of course, are dressed inappropriately for shopping in the store, and when the manager informs the girls that they should dress properly to shop in the store, Sammy feels he must protest.
"When Sammy quits in protest of how the girls were treated by the store's manager, he perceives that from now on, the world will be a more difficult place."
Sammy's act of defiance in the presence of the manager's reprimand has consequences that he probably has not thought all the way through.
Quitting his job is an act of the impetuousness of youth, for a brief moment, he feels a strong connection with the girls.
Sammy feels like he is expressing his individuality by standing up for something he believes in by quitting his job on the spot.
Sammy talks about the customers as "sheep" and complains about their behavior to them, such as the old lady who watches closely to make sure that he isn't "cheating" him. The truth is, though, Sammy has also been a sheep, doing what is "right" in the eyes of society. When the girls walk in, Sammy gets a new view of the world. He is intrigued by the girls, but particularly the one that he calls "Queenie".
- She was the queen. She kind of led them.... She didn't look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima donna legs.
- She must have felt in the corner of her eye me and over my shoulder Stokesie in the second slot watching, but she didn't tip. Not this queen.
Sammy is impressed by the courage and self-confidence shown by this young lady. He is also, of course, attracted to her. So when the manager embarrasses her, Sammy reacts.
"You didn't have to embarrass them."
"It was they who were embarrassing us."
"I don't think you know what you're saying," Lengel said.
"I know you don't," I said. "But I do."
This is a coming of age. In the last line, Sammy is admitting he fully understands what he is doing. He has chosen to not be a sheep, and to stand up for what he feels is right.
- Policy is what the kingpins want. What the others want is juvenile delinquency.
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