A&P Questions and Answers
by John Updike

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John Updike's short story "A&P": The character of Sammy. How fully does Updike draw the character of Sammy? What traits (admirable or otherwise) does Sammy show? Is he any less a hero for wanting the girls to notice his heroism? To what extent is he more thoroughly and fully portrayed than the doctor in "Godfather Death"?

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are a lot of great questions being asked here, and they are all focused on Sammy's character. Sammy is a great character. Updike did a great job of capturing the hormone-driven, "cooler than you" attitude of a young male. Updike does this in a quick and efficient manner. Readers are clued into Sammy's attitude about his job, his boss, and the customers when he refers to the customers as sheep. That's not exactly a high compliment about the people that he is supposed to be gladly serving. As for how he views the girls, Updike has Sammy almost exclusively focus on their looks, their figures, their clothes, and so on. Basically, all that Sammy sees is the physical aspects of the girls. A modern-day reader might take issue with Updike and complain about blatant sexual objectification, but that wasn't something that the mainstream media talked about when Updike wrote this story.

As to whether or not Sammy is a hero, that is definitely up for debate. I could support calling his actions...

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