In John Updike's short story, "A&P ", includes Sammy, the protagonists, Lengel, the store manager, three girls, who walk into the store wearing only bathing suits, and the local people who are as well shopping through the grocery store. Taking place in a small New England town, A&P, the main grocery store that the townspeople use to buy their goods is a perfect setting for this story because it represents the conformity of society, thus emphasizing the great contrast between the three girls and the rest of the local people. Sammy, a teenager who is probably the only person who is positively fascinated with these girls, becomes fixated with the prettiest of the three, Queenie, he refers to her as. Queenie, who seems to be the leader of the three, is often associated with the color white, "She didn't look around, not this queen, she just walked straight on slowly, on these long white prima donna legs " (Updike), emphasizing how Sammy holds her in high regards. As the girls progress through the store, they acquire the attention of everyone they walk past. Lengel, the store manager, who is a stickler for the rules, says to the three young women, "We want you decently dressed when you come in here " (Updike). By making this statement to the girls in front of everyone, they become embarrassed and Sammy begins to feel sympathetic towards them. Being so infatuated and intrigued by the girls' bold and contrasting behavior, he impulsively turns toward Lengel and quits his job. After quitting he leaves the store and enters the parking lot, thinking that the girls will thank him and look to him as their hero. Though this is not the case, the girls are no where to be found. Sammy then realizes that from this point on, the world is going to be harsh for him, he is no longer sheltered and protected by the same conformity of society.
John Updike's "A&P"" expresses an artful beginning through his deep description of the three girls in their bathing suits when they first walk into the store.