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Explication Paper On John Updike's "A & P"

793 words - 3 pages

In John Updike's short story "A & P," readers can infer that the narrator possesses a pessimistic attitude. His use of description and negative expression toward the store and the people in the store are key factors in determining his character. Through this paragraph the reader realizes the narrator does not like working at the A & P, and he also views the female gender as being objects not people which comes up throughout the story.The narrator refers to the store as a "pinball machine" with many different "tunnels" (545). "Pinball machines" are fun to play, but there is no possible way to beat them. They are played only for fun or to try to get the high score, but because so many people have played "pinball machines," it is nearly impossible to reach the highest score or, for that matter, to even get on the board. This is the reason why most people play pinball machines with no realistic thought of actually obtaining the high score, but just for something entertaining to do to pass the time. To the narrator, the store is like a "pinball machine" because his attitude suggests that he does not plan on moving up in the store. That he is just there until he moves on to something else in his life. He is just a cashier going through the motions but never gaining anything of true value. This lack of motivation is surely one of the main reasons for his negativity towards everything in the store.In the narrator's, so called, "tunnels" or aisles are "records at discount" which the narrator refers to as "junk" (545). He also asks the question why would "they waste the wax on" making these items. There are also "plastic toys" that according to the narrator "fall apart when a kid looks at them" (545). His negativity towards the items in the store implies that the narrator does not like working there.The narrator also expresses his negativity toward the people in the story. In the beginning of the paragraph, the narrator views his meat counter co-worker, McMahon, as a perverted older man "patting his mouth" while he gawks at the young girls passing down the aisle (545). The narrator implies McMahon views the young girls as pieces of meat or cattle and he is "sizing up their joints" (545). The narrator then...

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