How does John Updike's life and times compare to the actual story of "A&P" and proving that they are alike. I remember my teacher telling me that John updike had a boss like Lengel but spelled...

How does John Updike's life and times compare to the actual story of "A&P" and proving that they are alike. I remember my teacher telling me that John updike had a boss like Lengel but spelled slightly differently. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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John Updike, it seems, knew vicariously a boss named Lengel since the man employed Updike's mother as a saleswoman in his store, perhaps a decade or so before the Lengel of "A & P." Of course, Updike's mother probably did her grocery shopping at the Atlantic and Pacific grocery stores because they were the premiere stores of the 1950s and 1960s.

The character of Sammy appears to be semi-autobiographical as Updike himself had both the romantic and the cynic in him. While he was at Harvard as a college youth, Updike wrote for the Lampoon. Thus, he was capable of sarcasm like Sammy's:

He [Lengel] turns his back.  That's policy for you. Policy is what the kingpins want.  What the others want is juvenile delinquency.

Certainly, Updike was a youth who, unlike his parents, was exposed to more of the world as he attended college and even lived overseas, having attended Oxford. He understood that in the 1960s there was a great divide between the generations, perhaps, much larger than the typical generation gap. His short story "A & P" reflects this gap in attitudes and values and language. 

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