In John Updike's short story "A&P", what theme or moral lesson is being expressed? 

Expert Answers info

Harrison Murray, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Clemson University


calendarEducator since 2019

write1,171 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

One of the themes that emerges in "A&P" is that actions often have unintended consequences.

Queenie and her friends casually enter the grocery store "in nothing but bathing suits." This behavior which lies outside the norms of expected public behavior catches not only the eye of Sammy, the narrator, but his store manager as well. Queenie has not really considered the ramifications of not properly dressing for grocery shopping; when confronted, she deeply blushes. As it turns out, Queenie doesn't mind being the center of attention which flatters her, but she doesn't expect to be reprimanded. In...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 909 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write5,648 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business


tanikay | Student

John Updike is trying to express that men shouldn't give up so much for women.  The story "A&P" was expressed to show men are above women.  Notice how the women in the bathing suits are only good for their bodies but once they speak, they become whiney and needy?  Women in the story aren't even given a voice until after a man shopping in the store is given a voice (and he isn't important and the focal point of the story).  This is because John Updike believed that's how women were.  Only good for pleasure.  Sammy would of never lost his job if he hadn't been trying to stand up for the women's rights in the story.  Sammy now regrets that he had quit his job because he one: lost his job and is now out of work and two: wasn't able to satisfy his needs.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial