Do you think that Sammy is a male chauvinistic pig? Why, or why not? And if you think he is, do you find the story offensive?
Male chauvinist pig is a term I haven't heard in a while, I must say. It reminds me of when I would read Reader's Digest as a kid...
Anyway, no, I would not say that Sammy is a chauvinist pig, at least not more than I or any other heterosexual male is. Yes, Sammy definitely spends a lot of time checking out the girls in their bathing suits. He is clearly judging them by their appearance, looking at them as sex objects.
However, he presumably sees them as human beings as well. When he quits his job, I do not think that it is only because he thinks that will impress the girls. I think he is truly upset at how they have been treated.
Sammy is a slightly overly enthusiastic youth who didn't understand that there were no dragons to slay or damsels to save in the A & P that day. He thought he was standing up for human dignity and the right of respect of person regardless of circumstances. It turns out he was only standing up for his vivid imagination. His entry to manhood was therefore a apinful let-down when all he found was an empty parking lot. But there seems to be nothing chauvinistic about his youthful misadventure.
Sammy is, indeed, a romantic who perceives the three girls as the Sirens of Homer and himself as an Arthurian knight who must save the damsels who lure him. Yet, at the same time, Sammy is a red-blooded young male and is typical of his day and time. Keep in mind that the setting is in the early sixties--a time before the feminist movement. Men had a certain amount of verbal and imaginative license.
I don't believe that the term "male chauvinist pig" had been coined when John Updike wrote "A&P" in 1961, so maybe Sammy is more of a pre-MCP. Confused, yes. In need of one-on-one social skills, yes. Completely inexperienced with the opposite sex, absolutely. MCP in the making, possibly.
To call Sammy a pig is being a little to harsh. He’s young, and he’s trying to learn who he is and who he wants to be. His attitude is more like a role he’s trying on for size, and we can always hope he will grow and mature.
I thought that he was at first a MCP, but reading deeper into the story it's more about a young man coming of age and right on time with his focus and lust for woman along with a rebellious attitude and a desire to stand up to authority. His description of the girls are quite graphic, but does not mean he is without doubt a MCP.
It is unfortunate that a condition of confrontation and discord is being created between the two sexes by use of harsh language with terms like "male chauvinist pigs (MCP)". I am all for equality between genders. But this equality should not be equality of division. Rather it should be equal partnership.
Just as it may not be desirable to have all five fingers on a hand to be equal length. That will hamper with our ability to work effectively. Similarly it is neither possible or desirable to make men and women equal i all respects. What is important to value and respect the differences between men and women. I am afraid that use of derogatory phrases like MCP reduces rather than builds mutual respect.
Sammy would not be classified as that. While he surely stares at them, he feels for their situation, has sympathy for them as he calls them "my girls," and is only doing what any other young boy would do. Though he did not quit his job for them, he did want them to notice him and have them think he did.