The short story "A&P" by John Updike is narrated by Sammy, a 19-year-old young man who works at an A&P grocery store checkout counter. He is on the job one day when three young women clad only in bathing suits enter the store. He watches them as they proceed through the aisles, assessing their appearances and appreciating their scantily-clad shapes. He is especially impressed by the girl he nicknames Queenie, who seems to be the leader of the group. Sammy figures he has become lucky when the girls choose to come to his checkout stand to pay for their jar of herring snacks.
However, the situation goes awry when the manager, a stuffy man named Lengel, shows up. He accosts the girls and criticizes them for not dressing modestly enough. This embarrasses Queenie, and she blushes. As the girls leave, Sammy quits in protest to what he sees as ill-treatment of the girls. Lengel tries to get him to reconsider, but Sammy is adamant and walks out of the store. Unfortunately, by the time he reaches the parking lot, the girls have already left.
The first impression you have of this story probably depends on who you are and your background. Based on your similarity to the main characters, you might have one of three possible reactions.
If you are a young man, you might sympathize with Sammy. He is 19 years old, and he has begun to be interested in women. He finds the girls attractive and likes the distraction they have given him from his boring job. In the end, when he quits his job, he probably figures that it was a heroic act, a deed of chivalry, and he is disappointed when the girls have left without acknowledging it. As he realizes his good deed was in vain, he says that "my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter."
On the other hand, if you are a young woman, you might sympathize with the girls and be put off by Sammy's blatantly physical description of the bathing suit-clad bodies. You might wish that men would not be so quick to objectify the female form. You might be especially annoyed by the manager's strict and uptight reaction to the casual wearing of swimsuits in his store.
If you are an adult in a position of responsibility like Lengel, you might see the swimsuits that the girls are wearing as out of place in a public venue such as a grocery store. You might wish that young people would be more responsible. You would be disappointed in Sammy too for his irresponsible choice to quit his job on a whim.
In conclusion, we see that your first reactions to this story will depend upon your age, gender, and background.