A&p and the Lesson the Short Stories Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

A&P and the Lesson

The short stories A&P and The Lesson John Updike and Toni Cade Bambara explore the perceptions of young people as they stand at the threshold of adulthood. Updike's story, set in a grocery store in a small New England town, is about Sammy, a young white male cashier. Bambara's takes place in New York City outside the famous F.A.O. Schwartz Department Store, and is told from the perspective of Sylvia, a young African-American female.

A&P was published in 1961 at a time when the beliefs and values of the status quo were beginning to be questioned by the next generation. Rock n Roll was relatively new and the beat generation was a precursor to the hippie movement. The counter culture was yet to go main stream.

Briefly, Sammy is working at the cash register when three young ladies came into the store in their bathing suits. While parading about the supermarket, Sammy lecherously observes the curves of their bodies. As the girls get ready to check out, Lengel, the store manager comes into the store and sees them. Sammy describes Lengel as "pretty dreary, teaches Sunday school and the rest." Lengel chastises the girls for entering the store in bathing suits, citing store policy and the girls are embarrassed. The girls seem to be of well-to-do families and when Lengel says their "indecent" their leader protests. Sammy is quietly incensed at his manager's treatment of the girls and in a loud enough voice for the girls to hear quits his job as the leave the store. When he goes out the front of the store they are gone.

Bambara's story, published in 1972, is framed about a group of poverty stricken African-American youth and deals with the inequities of wealth and opportunity. Written during the period of history…

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