1 The short story A&P, by John Updike is in consideration for the essay. The story unfolds in a lazy Thursday afternoon, at a departmental store by the same name. Three young girls, in differently colored two-pieces, visit the store, and cause quite a small turbulence in the lives of the store workers. In particular, the narrator, Sammy causes a whole ruckus in the store, for something that isn’t worth much, in the first place. Or maybe he breaks free of the shackles binding him. The actions of Sammy can be interpreted both ways, and the further discussion of the story will bring out the facets of Sammy’s character, that can be analyzed and a conclusion reached. The theme of discussion will be the justification of Sammy’s actions in the story.
As soon as three bikini-clad girls enter the departmental store on a Thursday noon, the males in the store go berserk. Sammy, a counter boy, is aroused sexually at the sight of them. He notices their breasts, their gait and thinks explicitly about them. The girl, Queenie as he dubs her, catches his eye particularly. He goes on an aggressive male gaze trip. The other counter boy-Stokesie ogles at the girls too, and the boys laugh about it. However, Sammy thinks Stokesie is married and doomed to work for A & P forever, whereas he himself has lots to achieve. He feels a justified possessiveness for the girls. He is elated when the girls come to his counter for billing.Lengel, the store manager, reprimands the girls for being so scantily clothed. The girls are abashed, and Queenie hastens to explain that she only came here because her mother wanted some things. Sammy feels that the girl is from a rich family, unlike his own. The girls are about to leave, and Sammy hastily quits his job, because of the way Lengel treated the girls. Lengel tries to convince him otherwise, but Sammy thinks the girls will be impressed, and quits. As soon as he leaves the store, he sees the girls are long gone, and didn’t even see him do his act. The hard reality hits Sammy, and he wonders what to do now. .. “my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.” (Updike, John.2014)Thus, Sammy has been foolish to quit his job, without knowing what is due next. He was running behind the girls, who didn’t even notice him. The reality is indeed tough. His illusion, that his act would tag him a “hero”, had no effect whatsoever.
2 Somewhat similarly, my cousin was madly in love with a girl for around three years. He was blissfully unaware of the fact that the girl was already engaged to someone else. My cousin never told her anything, even though they were studying at the same University. Things were complicated, since their religions were different. My cousin, without even trying to find out what the girl was up to, fought with his parents regarding the relationship. Afterwards, he found out that she was getting married as soon as college ended. He was hit hard, and went into depression for months. He obviously got over her, and renewed his life later on, but the illusion with which he lived for three years was indeed foolish. Just like Sammy, the reality was harsh. The girl was unaware of his feelings, and continued to be so. So, illusion makes a person take actions which may or may not be justifiable. Sammy might have a hard life ahead, or make things better by working harder and realizing what he wants from life; it is all where he wants his life to go from then.
A secondary source, somewhat similar, is the story “Wireless” by Agatha Christie. Charles manages to convince his aunt that his dead uncle will be coming for her on a particular night. He wants quick money out of the will, after her death. He somehow manages to give her a shock and kill her, but unfortunately, she drops the will in the fire by mistake before dying. The old will had no share for Charles, and the doctor informs him that his aunt would have died in two months anyway. ”He felt somebody had been playing with him.” (Christie, Agatha.1933)Just like Sammy, Charles’ hasty actions stuck him up in a fix. Like Sammy, Charles didn’t know what to do next. Thus, hasty actions can either make or break one. It is worth being in an illusion; only if it is worth it. Else one is faced with difficult questions, that one has to answer with more diificulty.
- Updike, John. “A & P.” Tiger-town.com.n.p.,n.d.Web.23rd November.2014
- Christie, Agatha. “Wireless.” The Hound of Death.London:HarperCollins,1933.Print