What do you understand from the conclusion of the story "A&P"? What does Sammy mean when he says “how hard the world was going to be ... hereafter”?

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In the cold light of day, it's just dawned on Sammy that he's made a really stupid mistake. He thought that by quitting his job out of sympathy with the three young women he was acting like a hero. But he's now realized that he wasn't being heroic at all,...

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In the cold light of day, it's just dawned on Sammy that he's made a really stupid mistake. He thought that by quitting his job out of sympathy with the three young women he was acting like a hero. But he's now realized that he wasn't being heroic at all, just stupid and impulsive.

The only reason why he stood up for the girls was because he was sexually attracted to them. He seemed to think that by quitting on their behalf they would somehow return the favor; that they'd think he was a really great guy and would want to go out with him. But when that doesn't happen, Sammy instantly realizes just what a fool he's been.

He also realizes that his immediate future is less than rosy. That's what he means when he acknowledges "how hard the world is going to be ... hereafter." When word gets out that Sammy's quit his job, his parents are going to be pretty mad at him. They've been friends of his—now former—manager, and at the very least this will cause them no little embarrassment.

Sammy also senses how hard it's going to be for him to find a girl who's worthy of his attention. That's mainly because he's so immature and shallow, fixated on outward appearances instead of good character and personality. One gets the impression that this won't be the last time that Sammy makes a serious misstep when it comes to members of the opposite sex.

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