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Social Consequences In A & P By John Updike

Decent Essays
In the short story “A&P,” John Updike emphasises the overall theme of to be an individual is to face social consequences. In the beginning of the story, John Updike used the three girls’ swimsuits to symbolize their disregard for social norms. The base of the entire story is about the girls being dressed indecently in a grocery store. These girls are in their teen to young adult years, so they all must be aware that it is not acceptable to wear bikinis into a grocery store. Therefore, the only other way to explain why they would be in just their swimsuits is that they don’t care that this isn't socially acceptable, and to disregard the universal rules for being a “normal person” sets you apart as an individual. Consequently, the swimsuits are the cause of the conflict for the girls. We know this from Lengel telling the girls, “‘I don't want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered. It's our policy’" (Updike 4). As you can see, this quote tells us that the girls are not welcome in the store because of their attire, and Queenie’s reaction confirms the fact that they knew this wasn’t acceptable. The text tells us that, “Queenie blushes” (Updike 3) which shows that she knew that she wasn't supposed to be in a bikini, because blushing is a very natural reaction to being caught doing something you shouldn't. So if the girls knew they shouldn't be in bikinis, then the only way to explain why they would wear them is because they don't care. Another
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