Capitalism In John Updike's A & P

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John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania and raised nearby in a town called Shillington. His father was a math teacher and his mother was an up and coming writer therefore, John Updike was a child of a middle-class family and it is expressed in his work through the many social subjects he wrote about. A&P takes place in a small town supermarket that largely represents the consumer society of middle-class Americans in the 1950’s and 60’s. In this essay, A&P will be analyzed from a social standpoint- discussing the ways consumerism, capitalism, and classism are expressed through the subtext of A&P. “Consumerism is the economic theory which states that a progressively greater level of consumption is beneficial to the costumers.” This era…show more content…
classism is the act of relating to objects or people only in terms of their exchange or sign-exchange value. Throughout the story Sammy judges each consumers social class by the product they’re buying. He mocks the elderly for pineapple juice, th young girl for considering the cookies, and Queenie’s Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream. These are commodifications, or brand-name symbolism, which is what changes Sammy’s whole image of the social class. At this point, Sammy “realizes” Queenie’s social class and he starts to feel inferior to her. Once she is reprimanded Sammy feels the need to quit his job. Lengel, his boss, tries to talk him out of it but Sammy believes he must go through with the process he has already started. Marxist theory would say Sammy quit his job because of violated capitalist protocol due to the fact that Queenie is socially above Lengel but Sammy is actually rebelling after being inspired by Queenie. Sammy gets a quick moment of realization that he may not be trapped in his oppressed society and he can resist capitalism, only to realize he was entirely wrong and he states his “stomach kind of fell as if I felt how hard the world was going to be to me

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