54 pages 1 hour read

John Updike


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1961

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Use this activity to engage all types of learners, while requiring that they refer to and incorporate details from the text over the course of the activity.

“Unreliable Narration”

In this activity, students will reflect on the role of the unreliable narrator in “A&P” before rewriting a portion of the story from the point of view of Queenie.

In “A&P” we are told an imaginary story made up by a cashier named Sammy about a girl who comes into his store. His story about her life arises purely as a result of how he judges her appearance. Sammy invents details of her life based on these assumptions.

  • Consider how Sammy’s story about Queenie quickly becomes real to the reader, even though we know it is pure invention.
  • Think about the ways Sammy’s judgment of Queenie’s appearance connects with the facts he makes up about her life.
  • Once you have reflected on these details, write an alternative story from Queenie’s point of view. Your story can include details such as her family, her reasons for coming to the store, and her friends.

Share your account aloud or via a peer response circle as time allows. Consider the ways that other student writers invent stories about Queenie.