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Analysis

Literary Devices in A&P

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

The chain grocery story is now a fixture of American life. In the 2000s we have 24-hour stores, self checkouts, and vast arrays of basic and specialty items, from rice and beans to expensive patio...

Narrator Point of View

A&P is narrated by Sammy, a 19-year-old cashier at the A&P. Like many first-person narrators, Sammy seems to be telling us the truth as he sees it, but he's unreliable because his point of...

Genre

"A&P" is the story of Sammy's coming of age. Quitting his job to stand up against conventional morality is a defining moment in his life. We think it makes him something of a hero. At the end o...

Tone

Updike is a serious writer, who's known for tackling all sorts of tricky topics like religion, alcoholism, and spousal abuse, just to name a few. His trick is to delve headfirst into an issue, but...

Writing Style

"A&P" author John Updike is known for the idea that seemingly ordinary aspects of American life (like grocery shopping) are actually quite fascinating. He called this, famously, "giving the mun...

What's Up With the Title?

A&P, the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, is a real grocery store (and liquor) chain, founded in New York City in 1859. But why write a story about it?Updike says that one day in 1961 he...

What's Up With the Ending?

"A&P" ends in the parking lot. Sammy has just quit his job to take a stand against no-bathing-suit policies everywhere. The three girls didn't stick around to exchange numbers with their unsung...

Plot Analysis

Three girls in bathing suits walk into a grocery store.The place: an A&P grocery store in a small Massachusetts town. The time: a Thursday afternoon in the early 1960s. Sammy, the 19-year-old n...

Trivia

The original version of this story was three or four pages longer and ended with Sammy going to the beach to look for the girls and not finding them. Updike's editor at The New Yorker made the cut....

Steaminess Rating

This is a story about a 19-year-old guy watching three girls in bathing suits walk around a grocery store. There is no overt mention of sex, but the story is told in a sexually provocative way, so...
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