Critical Analysis Of John Updike's A&P

825 words - 3 pages

Critical Analysis of John Updike's A&P

John Updike's A&P provides numerous perspectives for critical interpretation. His descriptive metaphors and underlying sexual tones are just the tip of the iceberg. A gender analysis could be drawn from the initial outline of the story and Sammy's chauvinism towards the female. Further reading opens up a formalist and biographical perspective to the critic. After several readings I began seeing the Marxist perspective on the surreal environment of A&P. The economic and social differences are evident through Sammy's storytelling techniques and even further open up a biographical look at Updike's own view's and opinions. According to an essay posted on the internet Updike was a womanizer in his own era and displayed boyish immaturity into his adulthood. A second analysis of this story roots more from a reader-response/formalist view. Although Sammy centered his dramatization around three young females, more specifically the Queen of the trio, it was a poignant detailed head to toe description of scene. I'll touch on that later.

The Marxist style of criticism makes me a bit uncomfortable, because of the socialist and oppressive context it could be mistaken for. There is a clear definition of class in this particular story; Sammy, a young man at the beginning of adulthood yet living in a moderately conservative town in New England. His mom still irons his shirts for him, and he has little respect for his elders. This is clearly outlined when a double rung up item brings a scolding from a 50-something, a look at his thought process, reveals him imagining her in Salem burning at the stake. At this time he notices three young females gracing their way through the store. He describes them with an elegant yet critical flair. Their swimsuits were new with details down to the seams. The stand-out was the Queen, ?long white prima-Donna legs?you got the idea that she talked the other two into coming in here with her, and now she was showing them how to do it, walk slow and hold yourself straight.? He continues to give physical descriptions of her hair, chest, and the royal like gait in which she carried herself. These socialites were defying the conservative middle class norms by wearing not only swimsuits with no shoes, but dropping their straps and inhibitions at the door. They were in a class by themselves. Sammy in his...

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