Dr. Alida Allison
Study Question Response #1
Answer to #1
In the short story “A&P” by John Updike, the protagonist, an adolescent boy, experiences some of thepains of growing up. Characteristics of adolescence that Sammy, the protagonist, experiences in the story have been studied and categorized by child psychologist and author David Elkind. In this essay Iwill be analyzing and discussing some of those characteristics of adolescence as described by David Elkind and how they are displayed in John Updike’s short story, “A&P”.
The first of thesecharacteristics that I felt was the most exemplified in Sammy’s major decision to quit his job as a cashier at the A&P, was pseudo-stupidity. Pseudo-stupidity as Elkind defines it is essentially apropensity for bad decision-making; meaning that teens, when in the midst of a storm of emotions and hormones, will invariably make “bad” decisions based on an impulse or feeling. I definitely feelthat this was the case when Sammy made his bad choice. Another characteristic of adolescence that I think factored into his impulsive decision to quit is idealism and criticalness. Idealism andcriticalness comes into play in Sammy’s strong reaction to his boss’ chiding of the three girls. He thinks it was wrong of his boss to do that and because of his idealism decides to quit in a weak act ofdefiance or justice.
Other characteristics that John Updike exemplifies in his short story are Elkinds’ characteristic of self-consciousness and formal operational thinking. Self-consciousness isdisplayed in both the characters of Sammy and the three girls. The three girls are obviously aware that their decision to walk into the A&P in their bathing suits was going to garner them attention.Sammy experiences a facet of self-consciousness that Elkind describes as the imaginary audience, where he thinks that everyone is aware of and concerned about his actions just as much as he his. When...