In "A&P" by John Updike, what is Sammy's epiphany?

Sammy's epiphany in "A&P" is that he was too hasty in quitting his job to defend the honor of a group of pretty girls who his boss was rude to. He realizes that there are significant long-term effects to his impulsive action.

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An epiphany is a sudden revelation. The Greek word means something like "showing forth," and the term is often used in a religious context, to mean a vision.

In "A&P," one might say that Sammy has two epiphanies, pointing in contradictory directions. First, when Lengel orders the girls out of...

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An epiphany is a sudden revelation. The Greek word means something like "showing forth," and the term is often used in a religious context, to mean a vision.

In "A&P," one might say that Sammy has two epiphanies, pointing in contradictory directions. First, when Lengel orders the girls out of the store, all his feelings of dissatisfaction with the tedium of his job and the excitement of a world elsewhere that the girls have brought with them combine to make him quit. In this epiphany, he sees how he has been wasting his life in dull routine and how much he has been missing.

At the end of the story, Sammy has another epiphany, this time of a more visceral kind. An epiphany is supposed to be a moment of illumination from above, but Sammy feels this epiphany in his stomach, as he realizes how hard the world is going to be.

The idea of an epiphany suggests a certain mental receptivity. They are not for the closed-minded. When he has a secure job, albeit a boring one, the revelation comes that Sammy is wasting his life. When he is, quite literally, outside looking in, he understands that the struggle for survival is real and brutal. An epiphany would not be epiphanic if it did not come as a shock and motivate one to change one's behavior.

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Sammy's epiphany comes at the end of the story, after he has spontaneously quit his job due to his boss being disrespectful to some beautiful girls who came into the store. His grand gesture fails to get the girls' attention and succeeds only in rendering him both unemployed and still without a pretty girl on his arm.

To make matters worse, his now former boss reminds him of the far-reaching consequences of his impulsive resignation, which will resonate not only in his life but also in the lives of other members of his family.

I would argue that his epiphany also goes deeper. Sammy learns some valuable life lessons that day: about picking his battles, not getting involved in matters which do not concern him, and weighing up the pros and cons in any given situation. The incident serves as a reminder to Sammy that he is young and has much to learn about how the world works. He realizes that while the girls' embarrassment at Lengel's comments was fleeting and probably over by the time they reached the parking lot, the consequences of his newfound unemployment were likely to be far more serious.

Ultimately, Sammy's epiphany was that he needed to be less impulsive, less driven by pretty girls, and more serious about his own needs and those of his family.

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Sammy's moment of understanding or epiphany comes when he is outside the A & P and looks back through the big windows. It is then that he realizes "how hard the world was going to be" for him.

After he quits his job at the grocery store in a chivalric gesture of defense which is meant to impress the three girls, Sammy looks around to see if they have noticed what he has done. However, "they're gone, of course." Sammy now takes a cynical view of his impetuous act of heroism which went unnoticed. Now Sammy wonders if he has acted foolishly by risking his job for girls who obviously did not care about him. Further, Sammy's remark about the challenges of the adult world demonstrates his new understanding that the world is complex, and he was not been prepared to enter it at this time.

As he stands alone outside the store and sees how easily Lengel has replaced him (by checking out the "sheep" himself), Sammy's remark about the challenges of the adult world demonstrates his new understanding that this world is more difficult than the one he has left because it demands compromises and rationality over emotionality. In his epiphany, Sammy knows he is not yet prepared to enter this world.

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Firs, we have to understand what an epiphany is.  An epiphany is a moment of enlightenment or understanding.  Sammy, in this story, works in the A & P grocery store.  He is a typical teenager in many ways: bored with his job, interested in girls, wanting attention, etc.  When a group of girls come into the store and are not treated well (in Sammy's eyes), Sammy makes a choice that leads to his epiphany.  He decides to confront his boss about his treatment of the girls, hoping to gain attention from the girls and be a "hero."  When he does, he is fired.  When he leaves the store after he is fired, he is hoping to find the girls outside, waiting to shower him with their thanks, but they are not there.  This is when Sammy realizes that he has made a mistake and that he has done something foolish and finally, that the world will be a difficult place for him from this point onward.

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At the end of the day, Sammy says,"I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter." The author, John Updike, is pointing out how ordinary events, such as the three girls being scolded for their appearance, can become important moments in growing up. Sammy discovers he will simply expect a grateful world and he is now ready for new experiences that will teach him even more about life.

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