What does Sammy mean by “how hard the world was going to be ... hereafter” at the conclusion of "A&P"?

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Sammy realizes he's been an idiot and that his life's going to be pretty miserable from now on.

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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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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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As the story "A&P" closes, Sammy thinks "how hard the world was going to be him hereafter."  Will it? Why? or Why not?

Yes, it probably will be hard for Sammy.  He has reached a point of maturity from which there is no turning back.  His world inside the supermarket was dull but safe.  He has made a decision that will anger his parents and which will probably mean the end of their support, both financially, emotionally, and in the sense of being cared for like a child.

Sammy knows this as he makes his exit through the electric doors and into his life as a man.  Sammy says, "I just saunter into the electric eye in my white shirt that my mother ironed the night before, and outside the sunshine is skating around on the asphalt."

The girls, of course, are gone, never knowing the grand sacrifice Sammy has made in their honor.  He looks back, but sees that his absence has already been filled, his place in the store-society forgotten, like the tide filling in holes in the sand: "I could see Lengel,"  Sammy says, "in my place in the slot, checking the sheep through."

It's not a bad decision, he knows.  Sammy looks at Lengel as he himself must have appeared to the outsiders, "(h)is face was dark gray."  Still, knowing he cannot go back is difficult, for as anyone who has ever made an ultimatum knows, the future is uncertain.  It's never easy to grow up. 

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In "A&P," will the world be as hard on Sammy as he thinks?

In "A&P," one would have to agree with Sammy that the world is indeed going to be hard for him from now on in.

That's because he's a romantic in an unromantic world. Life is particularly hard for such people as the world is harsh and doesn't often conform to how they expect the world to be.

Sammy's already had experience of this. He made a romantic gesture, hoping that, at the very least, it would be appreciated. But sadly, that was not the case. Not only was his kind gesture towards the three girls in their bathing suits not appreciated, it cost him his job.

Sammy has learned a very important lesson about the world. This is not a place where gallant gestures tend to be rewarded or lead towards positive outcomes. In a harsh world, a world unfit for romantics like Sammy, such gestures mainly lead to unhappy endings.

Despite his lesson, one gets the impression that Sammy cannot help being the kind of guy he is. It's almost certain that he'll do the exact same thing in a similar situation in the future, with the same results.

That would explain why Sammy's so pessimistic about the world and how hard it will be to him in the future. He won't change and neither will the world, and so, in any future collision between the two, it'll be Sammy who'll come off worst.

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