In John Updike’s descriptive short story, A ; P, Sammy’s personality is described in the way he reacts to his job and the people around him. We know that he is the narrator of the story and that he is telling it in first person. So, we are in his head in a sense. The story makes it easy for us to understand the way he thinks. We get that understanding through the way he describes and reacts to the other characters.
Sammy is portrayed as an average teenage guy who probably doesn’t like his job all that much. He proves it in a lot of ways. When he is not busy checking out customers, he leans on the register in boredom, waiting for something to happen. His boredom is what leads him into describing the three girls who walked in. He also describes the store in a bad way, making it out to be a boring place. His job makes him feel like he’s trapped and stuck in his little check-out slot. He displays these feelings by the way he reacts to the other characters. For example, the way that he talked about the old woman, whom he had encountered, was pretty mean When the lady popped off at him for ringing her crackers up twice, he kept his feelings away from her, but let us know what he thought of her. He said that she looked like a witch and would’ve been accused as one if she lived in Salem at that time. He couldn’t have made a sudden outburst, because he knew he would lose his job. It wasn’t worth losing his job over one lady griping at him. It just wasn’t enough to make him explode.
He is a very artistic person, too. The way he describes the girls is extremely detailed. He puts his words in a way that enables the audience to clearly visualize what is going on in the story. He does this by using descriptive tools like metaphors and similes to describe them. One example is when Sammy said, “With the straps pushed off, there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head except just her, this clean bare plane of the top of her chest down to her shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal tilted in the light. I mean, it was more than pretty.” That sentence creates a vivid mental image.
He is also weak in some areas. One of his weaknesses is concentrating on his job. We know that he has a hard time in that area just from the beginning of the story when he loses his concentration while checking out the old woman. . He was so absorbed in looking at the girls that he forgot if he had scanned the customer’s crackers or not. He paid attention to the girls the whole time they were in the store. Any time it was possible to see them, he kept his eyes on them. To the woman it might appear that he has some sort of ADD or something, but to the reader, it looks like he has great concentration on the girls, of course.
Sammy is a determined fellow. Whatever he starts, he’s gonna finish. At the end when he was trying to impress the girls by saying, “I quit,” he didn’t tell his boss he was joking after the girls were gone. He carried through with what he had started.
At the end, when he was outside with no girls and no job he didn’t know what was going to happen to him next. Since he apparently got that job by someone helping him get it, he knew that the next thing he had to do was to take responsibility and do stuff on his own. He had kind of a bittersweet sadness. Freedom, but failure.
Sammy’s personality is described indirectly through the way he reacts to his surroundings and is illustrated so well that the audience feels like they know him after reading this story. The character’s personality does not always have to be explained, directly.