Symbolism in John Updike's "A & P"

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John Updike's short story "A & P" recounts how an adolescent supermarket cashier named Sammy has his life changed forever when three girls in bathing suits shop in the store where he works. He is the first person narrator who shapes the tale with his descriptions, attitudes and opinions. He is the protagonist who grows up quickly in a single day and the only round, fully developed character in the tale. As you proceed through the story and become acquainted with Sammy's opinions and ideas, it becomes obvious that Sammy has made the only choice that affords the possibility of real joy and fulfillment in his future. He is ready for a change. Sammy's life revolves around his job at a local A & P supermarket in a small Massachusetts town…show more content…
But he is smitten with the girl he calls Queenie who appears to be the leader of the group. He talks of her "long white prima-donna legs" (97), straps that are "off her shoulders looped loose around the cool tops of her arms" (98) so that "there was nothing between the top of her suit and the top of her head except her... I mean, it was more than just pretty" (98) and with breasts like "the two coolest scoops of vanilla I had ever known were there"(101). Age, physical characteristics and dress aren't the only differences that he notices between the girls and the regular customers. The girls also walk the store aisles against the usual traffic pattern and the regular customers find that disconcerting. Obviously, these girls do not follow the social conventions of the town. When the girls arrive at Sammy's check out counter he learns Queenie is buying herring in sour cream for her mother. Lengel, the manager, taking notice of them, comes over and tells them they are not at the beach and the store wants them "decently dressed when they come in here"(100). While the embarrassed girls defend themselves against Lengel's continued criticism, Sammy imagines Queenie's house where the snacks will be eaten. He "slid right down her voice into her living room. Her father and the
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