When Sammy, in Updike's "A & P," quits in protest he knows that from now on, the world will be a more difficult place. How is this?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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At the end of John Updike's short story "A & P," the protagonist Sammy comments that he now "felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter."

 Three teenaged girls dressed in bathing suits have just been rebuked for coming into the supermarket in such skimpy attire.  Sammy feels that the boss, Lengel, has been harsh with them, so he impulsively quits his job.

His action is a failure on all accounts.  Lengel points out that Sammy's quitting will hurt his parents, and Sammy admits that although he does not wish to hurt his parents, his action will pain them.

Sammy leaves the store and looks for the girls, hoping to be greeted as their hero, "but they're gone, of course."

Sammy has learned the hard lesson that the world is not fair.  He tried to be a hero, to stand up for what is right, and was rewarded with nothing but a lost job and disappointed parents.  His youthful vision of a life of well-rewarded heroism has been shattered.

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