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Feb 15; “A & P”

February 15th, 2011 by Patricia Nichtern

In Chapter four of Space and Place, Tuan analyzes the way the axis of the human body correlates to certain ideas.  These ideas can easily be applied to John Updike’s “A & P”.  In the beginning of this short story the author describes the main character’s perspective of the grocery store in relation to the girls entering it by having his  “…back to the door, so I don’t see them” (p.16).   Sammy, the main character, is positioned in the front of the grocery store.  According to Tuan, this signifies importance and a sense of higher status (p. 41).  The girls entering are behind him, which signifies profanity and the past according to Tuan (p. 35).  The way the girls are dressed in bikinis in the grocery store is, by society’s measures, somewhat profane.  In the sense of Sammy’s future, at this point, his future lies within his job at the supermarket.  His past was before he was employed there; outside, behind him.

Tuan also describes how when something is elevated, it is considered “superior or excellent” (p. 37).  This applies to the character Queenie in “A & P”.  She is taller than the other two girls and extends her neck to make herself appear even taller.  This also applies to her social status by being from a presumably wealthy family and therefore she feels superior to others with lower social statuses.  Queenie, the highly confident girl of the group, leads the other girls through the supermarket.   Tuan states that “lesser beings hover behind (and in the shadow of) their superiors.” (p. 40).  Updike describes how the girls are walking through the supermarket to enforce the character’s individual level of confidence.

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  1. on September 3rd, 2015 at 11:00 am

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