54 pages 1 hour read

John Updike


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1961

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Important Quotes

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“She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs.”

(Paragraph 1)

In the story’s first physical description, Sammy focuses on one of the girls and expresses his particular attraction to her rear end. This description indicates Sammy’s juvenility when it comes to girls, and it introduces his unabashed, persistent voyeurism.

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“She’s one of those cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty with rogue on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I know it made her day to trip me up.”

(Paragraph 2)

This further emphasizes Sammy’s descriptive habits, especially when targeting those within his own class. He gives the woman not one but two titles. This description alerts the reader to Sammy’s antipathy for the customers, but it also suggests he’s rung up countless others who’ve acted similarly and he’s developed a category for them.

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“—you know, the kind of girl other girls think is very ‘striking’ and ‘attractive’ but never quite makes it, as they very well know, which is why they like her so much.”

(Paragraph 2)

This quote indicates there are likely others in Sammy’s life who label people and that he’s learned to do the same. He is reading into the girls’ dynamics to identify who is at the top and who is at the bottom. This reflects Sammy’s ingrained ideas of class.