Reading Response for A&P Analysis

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In the short story A&P by John Updike, the narrator Sammy is a cashier at a grocery store called A&P in 1961. Three girls come in wearing bathing suits and no shoes, causing a stir among the sheep-like regular customers. Queenie, the leader of the group, and her friends are confronted by the store manager for not being decently dressed. Sammy is upset with the way the situation was handled and quits his job in an attempt to impress the girls. However, he realizes the consequences of his actions and how hard the world will be to him in the future. The story highlights the conformity and social norms of a small town and the consequences of going against them.

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The short story A&P by John Updike, takes place in 1961, at a grocery store called “A&P”. Sammy, the narrator, is a cashier at A&P. One particular day, three girls came in they looked like they were fresh from the beach still in their bathing suits and did not have any shoes on, this was not the typical attire at the usually plain and very “cookie cutter” store. Sammy can’t help but notice them, he watches as they walk around and get the stuff they need. He also talks about how the “regulars” react to Queenie and her two friends.

Queenie seems to be the leader of the group you could kind of tell the other two looked up to her. “The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle—the girls were walking against the usual traffic…” Sammy referring to the customers as “sheep” shows that they are a very close town. Where one goes the others will follow, they all look the same and have the same views. The town kind of turned their noses up to the three girls because they were different. “You could see them, when Queenie’s white shoulders dawned on them, kind of jerk, or hop, or hiccup, but their eyes snapped back to their own baskets and on they pushed.

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I bet you could set off dynamite in an A & P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking oatmeal off their lists and muttering “Let me see, there was a third thing, began with A, asparagus, no, ah, yes, applesauce! “. When the girls were done with their shopping they went to Sammy’s line to check out and that’s when Lengel the store manager comes out and confronts the girls. He tells them “We want you decently dressed when you come in here. ” With all the customers and other cashiers listening to what was going on, the girls were clearly embarrassed. They finished checking out and left.

Sammy was very upset with the whole incident and told his manager he wanted to quit and that he could have confronted the girls in a different manner. One reason he probably quit is to impress these girls and seem almost like a knight and shining armor. But by the time he left the girls were already gone. Sammy at the end of the story says “my stomach kind of felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter. Because in a small town, the news will get around that he quit and that he is a quitter. His parents will be disappointed. All because of three girls that weren’t even outside, when he left the store.

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