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Herring Snacks Symbol Analysis

Herring Snacks Symbol Icon
When Sammy hears that Queenie is purchasing the Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream for her mother, he immediately imagines the kind of gathering at which these snacks might be served and contrasts the image with the kind of parties his own parents throw. He recognizes that Queenie comes from a higher socioeconomic class than he does, and that to her, "the crowd that runs the A&P must look pretty crummy." This class difference also contributes to the feeling of foreboding Sammy has about his future at the end of the story.

Herring Snacks Quotes in A&P

The A&P quotes below all refer to the symbol of Herring Snacks. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Fawcett Columbine edition of A&P published in 1996.
A&P Quotes

"My mother asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks." […]All of a sudden I slid right down her voice into her living room. Her father and the other men were standing around in ice-cream coats and bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a big plate and they were all holding drinks the color of water with olives and sprigs of mint in them. When my parents have somebody over they get lemonade and if it's a real racy affair Schlitz in tall glasses with "They'll Do It Every Time" cartoons stenciled on.

Related Characters: Sammy (speaker), Queenie (speaker)
Related Symbols: Herring Snacks
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

In this moment, Sammy is beginning to realize how much more complex these girls are than he imagined. For one, he realizes their upper-class status and imagines the differences between their experiences and his own. While he is still projecting his imagination onto them, it is at least a more nuanced projection that acknowledges that they have lives to which he can't quite relate. In this interaction, Sammy also relays being startled by the girl's actual voice, since it is not like what he imagined. Throughout the story he has imagined this girl as somebody confidently exercising her power over men, and it startles Sammy to see her in a situation in which, confronted by the store manager, the girl tentatively brings up her mother to justify her presence in the store. Seeing her confidence falter helps Sammy to understand the complex negotiations of power at play, and also helps him to see that this girl is wavering between youth and adulthood in a way that mirrors his own experience.

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"We are decent," Queenie says suddenly, her lower lip pushing, getting sore now that she remembers her place, a place from which the crowd that runs the A & P must look pretty crummy. Fancy Herring Snacks flashed in her very blue eyes.

Related Characters: Sammy (speaker), Queenie (speaker)
Related Symbols: Herring Snacks
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
Queenie has now publicly gone from exuding confidence, to faltering, to seeming embarrassed, to seeming indignant about the way she is being treated. When the manager tells her she needs to dress decently (as in, she needs to be sufficiently clothed) she seems to take it as an attack on her status and personhood, as her response is a defense that she is, in fact, a decent person. Sammy, meanwhile, assumes (correctly or incorrectly, we can never know) that Queenie's reaction is based on her feeling that, because of her class, she should not be talked down to by the lower-class employees of the A&P. When he says that "fancy herring snacks flashed in her very blue eyes" he is using the herring snacks as an emblem of the upper-class world that does not belong at the A&P. Sammy's intuition that Queenie is having a moment of realizing that she is above everyone else in some way mirrors Sammy's feeling of superiority throughout the story. 
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Herring Snacks Symbol Timeline in A&P

The timeline below shows where the symbol Herring Snacks appears in A&P. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A&P
Sex, Gender, Power Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
...but an elderly customer reaches Stokesie first. Queenie hands Sammy a jar of Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream for 49 cents and pulls a folded dollar bill from the... (full context)
Sex, Gender, Power Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
..."this isn't the beach." Queenie blushes and explains that her mother told her to buy herring snacks , which immediately sets Sammy to imagining the type of high-class background Queenie comes from.... (full context)