A&P Questions and Answers
by John Updike

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What are the major themes in "A&P" by John Updike?

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One theme in "A&P" is the struggle for gender equality. Queenie and her friends display at least a mild form of protest by entering a grocery store and disobeying rules about "modest" dress that are required there. Sammy, the story's narrator, is willing to stand up for the girls' right to dress as they choose and still be able to shop there and be respected. Sammy thus supports a feminist cause, and because he does so, he ultimately loses his job. The girls leave without ever acknowledging Sammy's efforts, which demonstrates that not all forms of support are recognized or rewarded. Nevertheless, Sammy follows his sense of moral fairness and realizes how harsh the world really is at the story's conclusion.

Another theme that emerges is the conflict of principles in any society. Sammy criticizes the shoppers who mindlessly follow the metaphorical herd of fellow shoppers through the store like sheep. And he finds himself fascinated with these girls who are willing to live a little more...

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