Would you consider Sammy an anti-hero? Why or why not?Would you consider Sammy an anti-hero? Why or why not?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would tend to say that Sammy is an antihero in this story.  I base this on the idea that he does not overcome his "enemies" and he basically ends up deciding that he is going to be an outcast in the eyes of society.

To me, a hero in a literary work tends to exhibit traits that society values,  Heroes tend to come out "on top" at the end of the story.  This does not happen with Sammy.

The only "value" that Sammy seems to be defending is the rather subversive (at the time) idea that people like the three girls should be able to act pretty much how they want instead of conforming to what society wants.  However, his view is not shared by his boss and Sammy ends up quitting his job -- not very triumphant.  In addition, Sammy does not even get any of the girls.  As far as we know, he never sees them again.

All that Sammy really gets from this is the idea (as he says at the end of the story) that life is going to be really hard if he keeps acting the way he has acted in this story.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One definition for an anti-hero is a protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero; he may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely pathetic.

Sammy of Updike's "A&P" seems to qualify for this definition, for he is deluded in his heroic act of defending the three girls who enter the store in their bathing suits.  And, having quit to make a point of defense of the girls, Sammy stands outside the store in a bewildered state:  "...my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter."

kadalton | Student

I would tend to say that Sammy is an antihero in this story.  I base this on the idea that he does not overcome his "enemies" and he basically ends up deciding that he is going to be an outcast in the eyes of society.

To me, a hero in a literary work tends to exhibit traits that society values,  Heroes tend to come out "on top" at the end of the story.  This does not happen with Sammy.

The only "value" that Sammy seems to be defending is the rather subversive (at the time) idea that people like the three girls should be able to act pretty much how they want instead of conforming to what society wants.  However, his view is not shared by his boss and Sammy ends up quitting his job -- not very triumphant.  In addition, Sammy does not even get any of the girls.  As far as we know, he never sees them again.

All that Sammy really gets from this is the idea (as he says at the end of the story) that life is going to be really hard if he keeps acting the way he has acted in this story.

Thanks! That's very helpful.

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A&P

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