In "A&P," why do you think the girls wear their bikinis in the store? What textual evidence supports this conclusion?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Updike 's short story "A&P," is narrated in the first person by Sammy, a clerk at the grocery store. He observes the girls in minute detail but does not think about why they have come into the store wearing swimsuits. The question is raised by his co-worker, Stokesie, whereupon...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

John Updike's short story "A&P," is narrated in the first person by Sammy, a clerk at the grocery store. He observes the girls in minute detail but does not think about why they have come into the store wearing swimsuits. The question is raised by his co-worker, Stokesie, whereupon Sammy reveals that the store is in the center of town, five miles from the nearest beach, making their choice of clothing quite a conundrum.

When Lengel, the store manager, challenges the girls, one of them blushes and another defensively replies,

We weren't doing any shopping. We just came in for the one thing.

This suggests that the girls have not thought about their scanty attire or the effect that it might cause. In the absence of other evidence, it is reasonable to surmise that the girls were at the beach and came to the grocery store by car. Perhaps they were expecting to find a store closer to the beach, but it would only take them a few minutes to travel five miles in any case, and they may not realize how far they have come. Being young, they are unselfconscious about their bodies and perhaps rather thoughtless. This is all consistent with the text, but it is a feature of the story that Sammy's is the only psychology explored in any detail and, for him, the fact of the girls' presence is vastly more important than any possible motive for their behavior.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team