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Student Name
John Kubler
English 114A
3 September 2013
Provocative Tease of Title: More Scholarly Part of Essays Topic
Oh, the agony of choosing! As rebellious teenagers adjust to living in a social community,
they face a tough question: when can they demand their individual right of self-expression, and
when should they conform to group rules? In the short story, A & P by John Updike, we see the
central character of Sammy, a nineteen year old young man, who chooses to answer this question
by making a fateful decision that results in unfortunate consequences. Sammy regretfully learns
too late one of lifes important lessonsthat we should avoid making impulsive knee-jerk
reactions based upon emotions without first objectively examining both the other persons
perspective, and the ramifications of our own choices and actions.
The entire story can be seen as offering examples of errors in decision making. Sammy is
faced with the decision to either stand up for 3 young girls right to wear bathing suits in a grocery
store, or agree with his boss reprimand of the girls based on the stores policy for acceptable
dress. Before he can examine the pros and cons of both viewpoints, Sammy reacts impetuously
and supports the girls by quitting his job in protest. However, in making his decision, Sammy
does not respectfully consider the issue from the stores point of view. What prevents Sammy
from achieving this respect for the other perspective are weaknesses in his character traits; he is
arrogant, condescending and judges others based upon superficial details. For example, he has
many offensive, derogatory labels for the customers in the store, suggesting his proud feeling of
superiority. He refers to one fifty year old woman as a witch who ought to have been burned at
the stake (224); at other times, he arrogantly calls the shoppers sheep (226), scared pigs in a

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