A&P Questions and Answers
by John Updike

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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 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...

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firstly the epiphany is simply that life will never be the same, Sammy has experienced a change in his life.

secondly, overanalysis should be made a literary sin.

Thirdly, anyone who claims to be a professor and then cannot get something as simple as whether a character quit or was fired, correct should not have a job. 

Sammy quit...twice.. the first time he said it under his breath. When Lengel asked him to repeat it he did and then Lengel told him that he doesn't want to do this to his parents... blah blah blah. He quit! He was NOT fired