John Updike Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

What is the conflict in the John Updike short story "A&P"?

Expert Answers info

bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write7,077 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

There are several examples of conflict in John Updike's short story, "A&P." The primary one concerns the store manager, Lengel, who berates a trio of young girls who come into his grocery store barefoot and wearing only their bathing suits (what amounts to public indecency in the early 1960s). Lengel embarrasses the girls, and Sammy stands up for them--primarily because he is interested in the leader, who he dubs "Queenie." The conflict then shifts to that between Sammy and Lengel. Sammy abruptly quits; Lengel asks him to repeat what he had said, and Sammy again replies, "I quit." Lengel tries to talk Sammy out of it, since the manager is a friend of Sammy' parents, but it is to no avail. There is also a brief moment of conflict between Sammy and an older customer, who he calls "the witch."

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial