What symbols and instances of irony can be found in the story "A&P" by John Updike?

In "A&P", Queenie symbolizes Sam's desire for a better life and to defy authority. The A&P, in contrast, symbolizes the conformist, dead-end path he is supposed to follow. Ironically, Sam hopes to impress the girls by quitting after Lengel tells them to dress decently in the store, but they do not notice his gesture.

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Queenie is a symbol of Sam's desire for a better life. When she and her two girlfriends walk into his A&P in bathing suits to buy herrings, he is impressed with the confident way she holds her body and walks through the store. He is impressed too that she and her friends defy the store's dress code by shopping in bathing suits. Queenie even has the straps of hers turned down.

Queenie's dress and attitude also symbolize Sam's desire to defy authority and be his own person. She is not cowed by her surroundings as he is.

The A&P, in contrast, symbolizes the conformist, dead-end life that Sam is expected to lead in his small town, following the rules and accepting a dull but safe lot in life.

Ironically, Sam believes he is making a grand, defiant gesture by standing up for and defending the girls when he quits because of the way Lengel, the store manager, warns them to dress "decently" when they come into the A&P. However, the girls do not notice his gesture. As a further irony , Sam has simply...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1017 words.)

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