Character Analysis: John Updike A&P

Category: Character Analysis
Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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John Updike’s story entitled “A&P” is a narration of a man who seeks for his identity and pride. The narrator of this story is also the main character – Sammy. This protagonist is a simple man – a grocery clerk and an observer.

Because of this job, Sammy used to observe his costumers and the ambiance of the A&P. However, due to one situation that occurred into the grocery store, Sammy realizes many things and gives him certain actions that changed his life. Being the main character of the store, Sammy shows different emotions – happy, angry, sad, confused, and puzzled. That is why Sammy is a picture of transforming identity from the beginning up to the end of the story.

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In terms of sympathy towards Sammy’s character, I have seen that Updike uses different factors and elements to show emotions and actions coming from the main character. It is to provide conflict, climax, and resolution to the story. the author sympathize with Sammy’s character that can be seen in the end of the story where Sammy realizes that he has no job and the worlds will not be a better place for him anymore.

This part shows sympathy in a sense that the author makes the character realize the fact of life and did not only release the solution of the conflict. Updike shows the justification and idea of Sammy after he quit his job, which is a form of sympathy to the character.

Because the character comes from a middle class, the language is casual and straight. In the beginning of the story, we could see that Sammy is very observant with people or with his environment. When Sammy wants to express his feelings, he shows it directly without any form of pretention.

From this fact, it defines the identity of Sammy as a normal character with dignity and pride. However, the way he describes things or people is dramatic in a sense that he provides accurate imagination to feel and understand his perceptions. As the story goes by, we could able to show that Sammy starts to express his actions and words together that changed his path.

Sammy is easily affected by his environment. This is the most significant trait that he showed throughout the story. From the beginning up to the end of the story, Sammy establishes a concept of being affected to everything that happens in his environment. From this fact, we could distinguish that Sammy is a composition of attraction, curiosity, inferiority, and distinction. All these factors rehabilitate the mind and actions of Sammy towards other people like Quennie and Lengel.

In my own observation, I can say that Sammy’s persona is dynamic because his actions and motivations are not stable. As the story goes on, Sammy’s personality elevate from one factor to another. In the beginning of the story, Sammy is an observant. When he saw Queenie in a swim suit, he started to analyze things. When Lengel enters the scene and confronts the ladies in swim suit, Sammy talks to Lengel. When Sammy thinks that Lengel’s actions are illogical, he quits his job. His actions had a process to establish his character – not just a static formation of his identity.

From all of these, I can say that Sammy is a good character that can be played. He is flexible enough to adjust in different scenarios. This is what I like with his character. Even if he is prank, direct, and ‘weird’ character, there is a concept of intelligence that lies within his persona. It shows that Sammy was not easily manipulated by his environment but he could think and become supple to show who he really is.

Work Cited

Updike, John. A&P.

Cite this Page

Character Analysis: John Updike A&P. (2016, Jun 29). Retrieved from

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