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A&P Your Big Idea Defended

12/14/2011

In 300 – 500 words, discuss your idea here. Think critically. Use the language of literature. Defend your idea with support from the short story and/or Foster (quotes!!!) Directly direct other students’ points that you support or want to refute.

As A&P’s relationship with politics emerged in our class discussion, I have went over chapter 13 “It’s All Political” expecting to find some more elements in A&P that would correspond to political themes that Foster talks about. Yet, reading through chapter 13, I have rather found an interesting point that from an unexpected portion of the chapter. When defending his points against doubts of over-analyzation, Foster uses the educational background of Washington Irving to describe Irving’s sophistication and refutes such skepticism by asking the question “Does that sound like a man who didn’t understand what his narrative signified?” (Foster 114)

Right then, I thought I could acquire more insight into A&P if I researched more about the author himself – John Updike. One interesting fact that I found about John Updike was that he was a lifelong churchgoer who identified religion as one of the three great secret things in human experience (the other two are sex and art). In addition, more than often did he incorporate Christianity into his writings (Academy of Achievement). This might sound bizarre, but after re-reading chapter 14 “Yes, She’s a Christ Figure, Too”, I found some correlating parts between A&P and christianity.

Simply put, Sammy symbolizes Jesus Christ. I have came across this radical thought because of several moments in the story. First off, when Sammy declares to quit his job right when the three girls leave, I thought it was more of a sacrifice made for the three women than just a rash, immature decision made by 19 year-old boy. Jesus Christ sacrifices himself for the redemption of all the sinners. Sinners in A&P could be the “three girls in nothing but bathing suits” because they violates the rule set by A&P and also defies the societal norm (Updike). Also one of the features from the list that Foster provides in chapter 14 that might help to identify characters’ resemblance to Christ is when the character “[comes] to redeem an unworthy world” (Foster 120). Although Sammy sacrificed his job to support the three women’s unorthodoxy, it really might have been to redeem an unworthy world where society restricts one’s liberty. Nevertheless, Sammy states that “[his] stomach kind of fell as [he] felt how hard the world was going to be to [him] hereafter” (Updike). In fact, the sacrifice that he made did not clearly redeem the unworthy world and Sammy anticipates obstacles in the future. This might be analogous to today’s society where people constantly commit sin even after Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the sinners themselves. Thus, the irksome sensation that Sammy feels at the end of the story signifies that freedom and liberty demonstrated by the three women would not be easily embraced by the society.

However, something to keep in mind is that “no literary Christ figure can ever be as pure, as perfect, as divine as Jesus Christ” (Foster 123). In case of Sammy, he lacks numerous qualities that Jesus had possessed – he is immature, rash, irrational, lustful. Nonetheless, Foster says that “we have to bring our imaginations to bear on a story if we are to see all its possibilities; otherwise it’s just about somebody who did something” (Foster 123). Although John Updike never meant to portray Christianity in A&P, I personally found connections between A&P and Christianity to draw a conclusion that Sammy symbolizes Jesus Christ.

Mrs. Brakyo’s Comment

Joshua – I LOVE that you brought something completely new to the table, but only after RESEARCH and THOUGHT. Then you do a nice job of defending it. Welcome to AP Land!

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