In the short story, "A&P", Sammy, a nineteen year old checker at the A&P, a local grocery store, experiences some unusual customers that end up affecting his entire life through a series of events. First person narration, characterization, and symbolism are a few of the ways the author, John Updike gives the reader an inside look into the adolescent's mind. All of these literary devices enhance the meanings of the story's symbols as the boy's personality and view of his world move from content to admiration to resignation. .
Sammy, the first person narrator, plays an essential role in portraying an in depth viewpoint of the story. He labels the supermarket customers to be clueless, ignorant, and lost. He refers to them as, "The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle"(577). He also tells the reader how three teenage girls attract much attention to them when they walk in with nothing but bathing suits on. He goes into depth on each of their physical features, such as their bikinis and body shapes. Furthermore, he tells us their actions, attitudes, and gestures. In using first person narration, Sammy is able to present incidents very convincingly. He explains the setting and action in a very real way, which draws the reader closer into the story making one feel inside the story. .
The author uses characterization to develop the characters and reveal those character traits to the reader. Peltier, a literary critic says, "Youth is significant in this story. It is only the young who have not been indoctrinated, who still have the freedom- and perhaps the courage to make choices" (par 7). The protagonist, Sammy, represents a round and well-developed character. His reaction to the conflict between the three attractive girls and the manager of the store reflects his responsiveness to change. Lengel, the manager, and "the sheep" (577), or the customers, is an example of a flat and barely developed character.