There are many themes running throughout the story; this essay would discuss the major themes which make up the plot of the story.
For some the main theme seems to be one of integrity and standing up for the rights of others. Sammy's standing up for the girls is an example of this. However Sammy's action of supporting those girls could be seen as a foolish and reckless decision as they did not seem to care for his heroism and Sammy loses his job which teaches him a lesson of endurance and forbearance which a person should adopt in order to ensure one's survival. Both of the mentioned themes are present in the story but they are true to a certain extent. The major theme of the story is however very simple. The theme of the story is actually the stressors which many young men passing into adulthood face. (Warren)
Sammy faces three stressors in the story, his yearning for something to free him from his sexual tensions, job anxiety and his derision for authority. The first stressor plays a major role in the book. Sammy is in a growing phase and like most young men he has a sexual tension developed in him. Therefore when Sammy sees the three girls clad in bath suits, he gets an opportunity to vent off his feelings and he tries to attract them and release some of his pent up tension. He quickly builds up an addiction towards the ladies especially the lead girl whom he calls 'Queenie'. He becomes quite attracted to them and 'watched them all the way'. He is greatly seduced when 'Queenie' takes out a dollar bill out of her bathing suit. Sammy is really flustered by this; 'Really, I thought that was so cute' .When his manager embarrasses the ladies by saying, 'We want you nicely dressed when you come in here', Sammy gets really angry and decides to stand up for the girls. Sammy did not want to go on a date or even any companionship with the girls, he was just so frustrated with his sexual tension that he just wanted the girls see him doing something for them and he heroically says 'I quit'. (Updike)The second part of the theme is the job stress Sammy faces. The prospect of sitting in the shop seems quite boring to a young man like Sammy. He is a man who yearns for some sort of adventure while his job drags him to the limits of boredom. He mocks at the customers by calling them nothing more than 'sheep'. Sammy does not like his job and he finds his opportunity in the form of these girls to leave it once and for all. The final part of the theme is his dislike for his manager. For Sammy, Lengel is just not an authoritative manager, he also possesses a stern demeanor similar to that of a 'Sunday school teacher' and is often called as 'gray' in the story. However what makes Lengel more disdainful for Sammy is what he does with Sammy. By embarrassing the ladies and turning them out of the shop, he had deprived Sammy of what he has yearned for a long time. And he quits his job without further ado about its consequences. (Loveboat)
The story A&P by John Updike is an excellent example of the frustration which the young men face due to their sexual desires. Throughout the book, Sammy is seen as a boy in his teens who is naturally attracted towards the girls and out of his frustration he ventures to gain their attention whether they cared about it or not. The theme of the story is so natural and so familiar for the reader that it completely includes the reader in the story. This is the reason why quite