What are some comparisons between Lengel and Sammy in "A and P" by John Updike?
There are a number of ways that Sammy differs from his manager, Lengel: in age, in position, in sexual drive, in experience versus naivete.
First of all, Lengel seems immune to the girls' sexuality, unlike Sammy. While Sammy is floored by their beauty, Lengel chastises the scantily clad teenagers. He makes it a point to act in an authoritarian manner: "Girls, this isn't a beach," he says, not once but twice. Then, "I don't want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered," Lengel warns.
Lengel seems like a stiff, and he is in many ways, but unlike Sammy he knows the consequences that will follow rash action. When Sammy impetuously declares, "I quit!" it is Lengel who has the foresight to know not only how much his family will disapprove, but also how Sammy "will feel this for the rest of his life."
Sammy has probably made the right choice, unlike Lengel who long ago gave up hope of a meaningful future, but perhaps when he recalls the affect of youthful decisions and can only warn of the residual affects. Sammy, like all young people, though, must learn through his own trial and error. It is impossible to teach experience.