In John Updike s "A&P', Sammy makes a hasty, reasonable decision to quit his job. Sammy is a cashier at the A&P, a local grocery store. He works there to please his parents and does not see any excitement or joy out of working there. One day, three girls wearing swimsuits walk into the store. Sammy watches the girls and the behavior of the customers in the store. The manager, Lengel, humiliated "Queenie', one of the girls, about their clothing in front of everyone.
Sammy sees this as an opportunity to get away from his job and to try and be a hero in front of the girls. He is not satisfied with his job, nor Lengel for the humiliation he brought upon the girls so he says, "I quit'. Sammy is a typical teenage boy. He has the job at the A&P, a boring little grocery store, to please his parents. The manager, Lengel, has been a family friend for years. Sammy is not happy about his job there.
The A&P is a place where the same thing always happens — nothing. He is longing for something exciting or interesting to come along. Then it appears. Three young, high-class girls walk into the A&P wearing nothing but swimsuits. Sammy is astonished by these girls. He analyzes them and watches there every move.
No one usually comes in half dressed like they were. Business at the A&P was slow and there is not much to do besides watch the girls who came in. Sammy watches the girls walk through the store. The one he notices most is "Queenie'.
She realizes he is watching her, but pays no attention. They way these girls carried themselves, they were obviously from an upper class neighborhood. She just walks around with her head held high, longing for attention. There are two check out slots open, Sammy s and Stoksie s.
As the girls begin to approach the slots, a couple goes to Stoksie s slot. The girls advance towards Sammy s slot. Lengel, the manager and a Sunday school teacher, comes out and comments on their clothing. Lengel says, "Girls, this isn t the beach.' Queenie just blushes and thinks she is getting the attention she is been longing for. Lengel repeatedly says to the girls that it's not the beach and mentions that its policy and next time they need to have their shoulders covered when they come in. This humiliating conversation takes place in front of several customers and two cashiers.
Sammy is not very happy about Lengel embarrassing the girls in front of everyone. They were in a hurry to get out of the store, but who would blame them? Sammy, wanting to be a hero, says to Lengel, "I quit', hoping the girls would hear him and stop. They do not even acknowledge he has said anything. Sammy wanted attention from the girls just as they wanted attention from everyone at the A&P. He wanted to feel important by these upper-class girls. Sammy folds his apron and placed it on the counter.
Lengel says, "You ll feel this for the rest of your life.' As Sammy get outside he sees no sign of the girls, of course. He looks back and realizes what he had done. Lengel was standing in his place, checking the customers through. At that point, Sammy realized what he had done and how things would be in life from now one. Sammy made the right decision in quitting his job. He was obviously not happy with it and was sticking up for what he felt was right and trying to be a hero too.
Lengel was out of line when he embarrassed the girls. Sammy no longer respected him for his approach to the situation and now will live with the consequences of his actions.