Why does Sammy think of customers as sheep in "A & P"?What does Sammy's reference to sheep in the short story "A & P" by John Updike mean?

Expert Answers info

S.L. Watson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write580 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

In the short story "A & P" by John Updike, Sammy thinks of the customers as sheep because they all appear alike to him, and they seem mindless. Just as sheep will flock and follow one another, so do the customers at the A & P as they go up and down the aisles, blindly reading their shopping lists.

This is different from the girls who enter the store in their bathing attire and walk the wrong way from the sheep, up and down the aisles. Sammy says, "The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle—the girls were walking against the usual traffic (not that we have one way signs or anything)..."(para 5)....

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 476 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write1,334 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write1,183 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


jonnydee | Student

Sammy's calling the shoppers in the A&P sheep says more about him than it does about them. They aren't sheep--animals that crowd together for protection and direction. They're just shoppers. The issue is Sammy's twisted view of almost everyone in the store. He objectifies almost everyone in the store and in doing so lessens their humanity (and his own). Sammy is sick. Deeply so. His calling the woman at the "a witch" who "they would have burned at the stake over in Salem..." reveals just how twisted working in the A&P has made his soul. There's something so soul-sucking about working at the A&P for Sammy that unless he escapes (which he does), he could become a very dark and dangerous man. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial