What does author John Updike tell us about the story of "A & P"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Through his authorial voice, John Updike tells about "A & P" by disclosing some important things about American society as it existed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He discloses a society that is mostly founded in cheerfully kept standards. I say cheerfully kept because Sammy was mostly unbothered by the requirements of his role as a clerk at the A & P until the day the three ill-clad girls walked in and caused him to have ill-founded visions of moral chivalry.

Once he failed his job by quitting and the girls failed him by vanishing and not lauding him for his courage, intervention and heroism, Sammy had no choice but scream in horror at his unthinking mistake and run back to beg for his job back--which he didn't do--or learn to rail against the rules of society. And the girls gave no sign of acting rebelliously; they only gave signs of acting unthinkingly, as unthinkingly as Sammy. Updike presents all these details in his authorial voice to tell us about "A & P" and the American society it represents.