54 pages 1 hour read

John Updike


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1961

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Essay Questions

Use these essay questions as writing and critical thinking exercises for all levels of writers, and to build their literary analysis skills by requiring textual references throughout the essay.

Differentiation Suggestion: For English learners or struggling writers, strategies that work well include graphic organizers, sentence frames or starters, group work, or oral responses.

Scaffolded Essay Questions

Student Prompt: Write a short (1-3 paragraph) response using one of the bulleted outlines below. Cite details from the text over the course of your response that serve as examples and support.

1. Imagine the story’s gender roles were switched, such that Queenie and her friends were men and Sammy, Stokesie, and Lengel were women.

  • How does gender influence the events of the story? (topic sentence)
  • In the body of the essay, describe the ways the gender of each character conforms to social expectations.
  • In your concluding sentence or sentences, discuss how gender roles and expectations limit the lives of the characters in “A&P.”

2. At the end of the story, Sammy tells Lengel that he quits, hoping that Queenie and her friends will overhear and understand he is doing it on their behalf.

  • Does Sammy want to be authentic, or does he only want to appear authentic? (topic sentence)
  • In the body of the essay, analyze what Sammy’s bold action of quitting means for his future and why.