Community Influence in Literature
In Literature, as in life, communities contribute to decisions made by individuals in the community. A communities influence over its inhabitants can help form the method in which the decision making is formed. The community may not always be listened to, but the values upheld by the community are at least considered.
In the short story A & P by John Updike, we see the changes brought forth when the gap in generations is widened by the start of a new era. It is the early sixties and the story of how one young man stands up for the rights of some teenage girls unfolds amidst the chaste morals of the generation before.
When the three girls enter the A & P wearing their bathing suits, they feel they have nothing to be ashamed of. "She held her head so high her neck, coming up out of those white shoulders, looked kind of stretched" (DiYanni, 2007, p. 33) as the patrons of the establishment avert their eyes. This is a depiction of a community that is embarrassed by the fact that these girls are half-dressed. Though this would be acceptable at the beach, the community does not condone this dress in a public venue in town.
The clerk working, Sammy, is near the age of the three girls and, with the changing times, has the same thoughts as the girls. He knows how the community feels about such things; he can see their reactions. That does not change the way he feels about the situation. When Sammy's boss, Lengel, confronts the girls, he is saying what he feels the community expects. "We want you decently dressed when you come in here." "It's our policy." (DiYanni, 2007, p.35) With these statements Lengel is voicing the opinion that the community has instilled in him.
Sammy knows how the community feels. He's lived in this town for years. But, the times are changing and young people are feeling more liberal in their views. He takes this opportunity to stand up against the outdated, in his eyes, viewpoint of the community....