Sammy’s Character Analysis

While watching the three girls, Sammy gives descriptive details as he observes them walking around the store. He describes them one at a time, giving details of their hairstyles, bathing suits and their physical features. He illustrates an explicit sexual interest in the girls. He evaluates the first girls behind or “can” as he refers to it and becomes weak at the sight of Queenie’s breasts (Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 93). His analytical observation expresses his view of the girls’ varied skin shades and even Queenie’s gait as she walks. Sammy’s comprehensive observation of the girls indicates the extent of his appreciation of the opposite sex, more so their beauty while at the same time asserting the aggressiveness of his gaze. His observations culminate to warm feelings towards the girls and to some point he feels possessive of the girls where he refers to them as “my girls” ((Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 97). However, his possession of the girls is but an illusion as he can only watch them and nothing more.

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It is observed that Sammy has a heightened descriptive and observatory ability. Through his observations, it is possible to gain a degree of insight from his observations. However, in spite of his observations, he is unable to comprehend the functionality of the girls’ minds as he observes, “you never know for sure how girls’ minds work” (Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 93). As such their minds become a mystery in which he is unable to solve. He considers the customers as easily understood and predictable for instance, when reprimanded by a customer, he equates the lady to a witch who had she been born at a prior time in history would have been burned at the stake. Sammy perceives himself to be intuitive; as such he is able to understand others and figuring out what they are all about. This is illustrated by his perceptions of Stokesie and Lengel. However, his deduction ability to enable him to know what the girls are thinking when they enter the store.

Queenie the most noticeable of the girls proves to be an enigma to Sammy. Though he initially thought he understood Queenie, his actions at the end undermines his confidence as a person capable of observing others and understanding them. Sammy’s action to quit his job in an effort to prove a point and a show of solidarity to the girls fails to have the anticipated climax ((Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 98 – 99). He realizes that his observations may not always lead to the expected conclusions in understanding human behavior. As such his action to quit his job is misguided as a result of misinterpretation of his observations. Therefore, Sammy must first understand and observe himself before he can conclusively claim to understand others through his observations.

While Sammy is attracted to the girls as a result of their scanty dressing, age and attractiveness, he appreciates the symbolic implications of the bathing suits. His world is characterized by prescribed norms and rules; as such the entry to the store in bathing suits depicts the girls as breaking from traditional norms and embracing change. Thus, he perceives the girls as a precipice to changing the rules and creating a niche for himself where he can be what he aspires to be. Sammy realizes that by adhering to the rigid rules, there is no room for growth and personal development. When Lengel tries to enforce the rules, Sammy asserts their defiance but refusing to conform to Lengel’s expectations by announcing that he has quit his job ((Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 98).  

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Among the things that Sammy realizes is his near assimilation into the corporate system represented by the A&P. Sammy has been vocal about how he differs from the “house slaves” and “sheep” moving in and out of the store ((Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 94). He is also sure that he is neither a flunky like Lengel nor is he a chump like Stokesie. The removal of his work attire, symbolically illustrates his withdrawal from the traditional system characterized by rules and conformity to expected behavior. However, his action leaves him segregated from his world, while contemplating on his next course of action.

Additionally, Sammy is a disaffected person often making sarcastic opinions on others. He illustrates a keen interest in the opposite sex through scrutiny and observation made on the physique, dress code and mannerisms of the girls. Consequently he observes and notices everything. As such, he takes in all the intricacies depicted by the girls from their physique, patterns and texture of their attire to the various contours of their tanned bodies. He keenly observes the outside in an effort to comprehend the inside, for instance, the effect of Queenie’s loose bra straps ignites a significant sensual interest ((Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 94); however, this observation motivates him to form an idea of her inner self. His imagination is further inspired to create a detail perception of Queenie’s social life and status on hearing the girls talking. In light of this, Sammy’s keen descriptions and observations unveil his shortcomings and prejudices. For instance, his unperturbed ogling and lustful observations indicate his immaturity. Meanwhile he views the A&P customers with contempt branding them as house slaves and sheep. He views himself as a superior thinker in contrast to his workmates more so Stokesie, who he refers to as an unimaginative drone.

Ironically, while Sammy regards his workmates as unimaginative drones, his sense of superiority is mirrored to the likes of Queenie and her rich cadre. Therefore, Sammy realizes that in Queenie’s point of view, he is consequently an unimaginative drone. This puts him in the same category as Lengel and Stokesie. When Queenie purchases the Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks for her mother; Sammy visualizes the party in which such a classy meal is served. He mentally compares the sophisticated cocktails, herring snacks and white jackets of Queenie’s social cadre with Schlitz beer, lemonade and novelty glasses of his parent’s social cadre ((Kirszner & Mandell, 1986, p. 95). This observation makes Sammy appreciate that from Queenie’s point of view, the workers at the A&P are significantly crummy. This realization humbles and heightens Sammy’s superiority complex. However, this realization does not make him resent Queenie or her social status; he appreciates her freedom from being constrained by social norm.

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Sammy’s wish to distance himself from the likes of Stokesie culminates in the loss of his job. In an effort to prove that he is different from them, Sammy declares that he has quit his job. The objective of this announcement is to appear different and superior to his workmates; however, his declaration goes unnoticed by the girls who hardly noticed him. His action primarily aimed at impressing the girls, becomes a failed attempt and an inherent gesture to liberate himself from his social constraints. Consequently, Sammy’s action does not gain him any admiration on the part of the girls but he feels guilty at the consequences that losing his job will have on him and his family. Though Sammy admires and desires Queenie, his desire not only impacts on his immediate desire for the girl but also with the desire to have a higher standard of life than that presented by the A&P.

In Sammy’s mind Queenie represents a higher standard of life characterized by sophistication, higher social status, luxuries such as summer vacations and the escape from the mediocre social norms of places such as the A&P. Sammy’s desire for an escape from his reality makes him desperate for opportunities which are beyond his capability and experience. Therefore, Sammy’s action in quitting illustrates his desire to seek new and better opportunities that might afford him the life he desires.

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