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Initiation Story Essay

810 words - 3 pages

Initiation Story

"A&P", written by John Updike, is based on a moment in the life of a cashier. He was known as Sammy and he referred to his position in the grocery store as a slot checker. Sammy spent his time watching and wondering about customers. One day, while working, three girls dressed in bikinis entered the store and attracted his attention. He describes the three girls movements and watches them as they roam throughout the store. Eventually, the girls work their way to Sammy's cashier station to purchase the item which they have selected. Then Lengel, the manager of the store, enters and embarrasses the girls for their attire. As a result, Sammy quits his job at the A&P. This short story is an example of an initiation story through its use of characterization and plot.

Sammy, the slot checker, at the "A&P" evolved throughout the story. Initially, he was only a cashier who was using his idol time to critique the customers who came passing through. His job was beneath his mental capabilities and so this was the only way he could keep himself busy. This is demonstrated when Sammy states, "Slots three through seven are unmanned and I could see her wondering between Stokes and me, but Stokesie with his usual luck draws an old party in baggy pants who stumbles up with four giant cans of pineapple juice (what do these bums do with all that pineapple juice? I've often thought to myself)" (489). This is the only way Sammy seems to keep himself busy during days when there are not so many customers.

His boss, Lengel is a symbol of authority to Sammy in this literary work. Sammy seemingly dreads the sight of his manager. This is depicted when Sammy states:
Then everybody's luck begins to run out. Lengel comes in from haggling with a truck full of cabbages on the lot and is about to scuttle into that door marked MANAGER behind which he hides all day when the girls touch his eye. Lengel's pretty dreary, teaches Sunday school and the rest, but he doesn't miss that much. (489)

However, when the girls were embarrassed by Lengel Sammy's personality changed. He...

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