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In John Updike’s story “A &P” we see three sets of values at work. There are the girls who come into the store inappropriately dressed. Their values are reflected in their behavior. They aren’t concerned with following petty rules that they don’t feel are important. There is also the store manager, whose values represent the conservative attitude that people should be willing to follow precise guidelines about behavior in public. Then there is the first person narrator, an employee, who is watching the girls walk around the store. He gets carried away imagining things about the girls, especially the pretty one. When they get into an argument with the store manager, he makes a big production out of quitting his job in protest, apparently to impress the girls. The girls, however, ignore him.
It’s hard to say that one of these values is favored over any other. Nobody comes out of the story looking very victorious or satisfied. Ironically, it may be that the first person narrator’s values are the least impressive, as he is basically just trying to show off for the benefit of the girls. He appears to regret his decision soon after he makes it.
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