54 pages 1 hour read

John Updike


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1961

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Essay Topics


Imagine the story’s gender roles were switched; what if Queenie and her friends were men, and Sammy, Stokesie, and Lengel were women? What may change in the story? Why would this be? What does this change indicate about gender roles and expectations?


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? What is the difference?


“A&P” is written in the tone of realism. What about the story signals realism? Is there any part of the story that seems fantastical or unreal? Identify these moments and explain your reasoning.