John Updike, born in Pennsylvania in 1932, published his book of short fiction, The Same Door, and his first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, in 1959. In the 1960's, 1970's, and early 1980's, Updike alternated successfully among novels, collections of stories, occasional verse, essays, and one play. Throughout his career, Updike won virtually every major American literary award including two Pulitzer Prize awards, a National Book Award, and an American Book award. .
A short story written in 1961 by Updike, A&P introduces readers to an adolescent who undergoes metamorphosis while working at the local grocery store. As the story begins, Sammy is nineteen with no real grasp for the fact that he is about to be living on his own and working to support himself. He currently lives with his parents who have certain expectations of him. Sammy is a responsible young man with a respectable job at the local A&P grocery store. During Sammy's shift one warm day, three girls walk into the store wearing nothing but bathing suits. This seemingly unrelated circumstance leads to Sammy's metamorphosis.
As the three young female customers make their way through the aisles of the grocery store, Sammy and his co-worker Stokes are in awe of their risqué appearance. Other customers are also taken aback by the girls' attire, or lack of it. Upon the girls' entrance to Sammy's check-out lane, the manager of the store notices them. Lengel, the store manager, comes over and says, "Girls, this isn't the beach."" As tension rises between Lengel and the three girls, Sammy is in deep thought about the entire situation. Once the girls have completed their transaction and left the store, Lengel is relieved to have resolved the conflict. .
In a flamboyant act of impulse, Sammy quits his job stating, "You didn't have to embarrass them."" Lengel, a long time friend of Sammy's parents, reminds the evolving young man, "Sammy, you don't want to do this to your Mom and Dad.