What is the plot of John Updike's short story "A&P"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Updike's short story, "A&P," is a slice-of-life tale about Sammy, the protagonist-narrator and teenage cashier in a New England grocery store. One day at work, three teenage girls come into the store clad only in bathing suits. Sammy becomes so distracted that he can't remember if he has rung up his last customer's goods. The three girls--described by Sammy as "a chunky one... a tall one" with a long chin, and the "queen"--continue their shopping while he and a co-worker gossip about the three underdressed girls. When the girls arrive at Sammy's checkout counter, "Queenie" produces a dollar bill from her bathing suit top, causing Sammy more lustful distress. However, the store manager chastizes the girls for their scantily-clad dress, which embarrasses the girls. As they leave, Sammy, in an act which he considers chivalrous (but which goes unnoticed by the girls), tells the manager that he quits. The manager, a friend of Sammy's parents, tries to convince him to remain, but Sammy rings up a "no sale" on the register, and storms out of the store. Without a job and likely to draw the ire of his angry parents, Sammy's summer --and his immediate future--appears to be threatened by his abrupt decision.