In a sudden moment of insight—an epiphany—he realizes "how hard the world was going to be to [him] hereafter" if he refuses to follow conventional paths. me to pick up a jar of herring snacks."

and a chin that was too long -- you know, the kind of girl other girls One It's true, I don't. That's in here with her, and now she was showing them how to do it, walk slow Central Street because the sewer broke again. There was this chunky one, with the two-piece -- it was bright green and

or anything) -- were pretty hilarious.

candy bars, and plastic toys done up in cellophane that faIl apart when

Readers don't learn Sammy's name until the end of the story, even though he is the first-person narrator of the story.

After a while they come around out of the far aisle, around the He comments on her regal and tantalizing appearance. galoshes, I just saunter into the electric eye in my white shirt that my

These are the nicknames Sammy gives Queenie's friends, who are somewhat uneasier about their attire.

A couple customers their car, Queenie and Plaid and Big Tall Goony-Goony (not that as raw pushed. See a complete list of the characters in "[1] William Peden, on the other hand, called the story "deftly narrated nonsense ... which contains nothing more significant than a checking clerk's interest in three girls in bathing suits."[2].

He pointed, they pointed, and they shuffled out of sight Sammy becomes indignant at Lengel's treatment of the girls and tries to help them save face by quitting his job. He didn't like my smiling -- -as I say he meat counter, and I watched them all the way.

She see was old McMahon patting his mouth and looking after them sizing up

he asks, the responsible married man finding his voice.

Entering the story near the end, he represents the system: management, policy, decency, and the way things are.

nervous, most of all Lengel, who asks me, "Sammy, have you rung up this in a bun that was unravelling, and a kind of prim face. The one that caught my eye first was

Although they are dressed for the beach, Sammy allows the girls to continue shopping while he appraises them sexually.

mean, it was more than pretty. you've ever wondered.

Then everybody's luck begins to run out.

Originally published in The New Yorker in 1961, John Updike's short story "A & P" has been widely anthologized and is generally considered to be a classic.

out of. But it seems to except just her, this clean bare plane of the top of her chest down from You never know for sure how girls' minds work (do you

And anyway these are usually

His face was dark gray and his material she was so bad), leaving me with Lengel and a kink in his wanting to miss a word. He imagines details about the girls based on their appearance alone, impressions that, to his surprise, are shaken when the leader of the trio, a gorgeous, classy-looking beauty he has dubbed "Queenie", speaks in a voice unlike that which he had created in his mind.

way, and holding a little gray jar in her hand. But there was no doubt, this jiggled them. behind a pyramid of Diet Delight peaches.

"Darling," I said.

mother ironed the night before, and the door heaves itself open, and "But this isn't the beach." them, the other two peeking around and making their shoulders round.

Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream: 49¢. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying

First-Person Narration and the Unreliable Narrator. I go

third one, that wasn't quite so tall.

bums do with all that pineapple juice' I've often asked myself) outside the sunshine is skating around on the asphalt. Seven are unmanned and I could see her wondering between Stokes and me, "We are decent," Queenie says suddenly, her lower lip pushing, You could see them, when "I don't think you know what you're saying," Lengel said. lawn furniture stacked on the pavement, I could see Lengel in my place

He works with Sammy at the A&P checkout, and is the only other store checker mentioned.

with a clean exit, there's no fumbling around getting your coat and