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Risky Attire: A&P by John Updike Essays

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In “A & P”, John Updike conveys the reaction of bystanders to three young women when they enter a grocery store, dressed in swim wear during a day at the beach. The ladies begin touring the store in search of Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks for Queeie’s mother. Lengel, the store manager, takes notice of the girl’s attire as they navigate to the cashier to pay for their snack and disapprovingly confronts them. During Lengel’s conversation at the checkout, Queenie understandably becomes uncomfortable and defensive. She attempts to defend herself but the store manager relentlessly reiterates his opinion. The checkout interaction in “A & P’ causes me to flashback to my early teenage years when I experienced unwelcomed disapproval regarding my choice of attire.
Although quite common today, the scene John Updike describes in “A & P’ causes distractions in the normally uneventfully grocery store nestled in town. As Sammy goes about his usual business of assisting customers with their groceries purchases, three young ladies enter that cause quite a distraction. The A & P’s typically customers consist of matronly women and these beautiful young ladies cause Sammy’s attention to drift from his duties at the checkout as he sees the barefoot visitors enter the quaint store. The girls, sporting swim wear and barely covered sun kissed bodies, confidently move about and seem to be unaware of the obvious attention from spectators. Stokesie, a fellow cashier, finds his attention drawn to the girls as he exclaims, “I feel so faint”, (Updike 20) demonstrating the intoxicating effect of the unusual visitors.
The girls parade isle by isle, barefoot and seem unaware of the distraction caused by their presence. Confidently they walk against ...


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... the whole incident as we attempted to defend our Halloween costumes. They told us that they loved our costumes and dismissed any notion that the costumes could be perceived as inappropriate. One young man in particular expressed his disapproval with the man’s reaction to my costume, taking notice of me as Sammy did that day of Queenie in the grocery store. I relate to Queenie in “A & P” by John Updike when I reflect back on that final Halloween. The man at the door that Halloween night treated me similar to how Lengel treated Queenie at the A & P checkout, and just like Sammy, my teenage admire watched, eager to support my choice of attire.











Work Cited
Updike, John. "A & P." Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. Ed. Dana Gioia and X.J. Kennedy. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2012. 18-23. Print.










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