54 pages 1 hour read

John Updike


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1961

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Discussion/Analysis Prompt

Throughout the story, Sammy invents a narrative about the girl he names Queenie. Although he knows nothing about her except how she looks from his perspective, he creates an entire explanation of her life, background, and predilections that lends meaning to her actions in the grocery store. What does the narrator’s story about the girl and her friends tell us about his beliefs and values? Consider these points as you reflect on the text to answer the question:

  • How does the narrator view the people in his town? Does he feel he is like them?
  • What is the narrator’s socio-economic status? How do you know this?
  • What does the narrator imagine to be the story behind the girls’ trip to the store?
  • What does the narrator want for his future and how does he try to get it?

Teaching Suggestion: Because Sammy’s observations of the people around him are quick, colorful, and often amusing, readers may accept them as objectively accurate. Asking them to track the assumptions he makes about everyone during the story and then encouraging them to challenge his assumptions with a plausible alternative explanation can show them the power of a narrator to shape a reader’s judgment, and the importance of a reader to question a narrator’s reliability.