The story revolves around the disruption the girls cause by walking into A&P in only their bathing suits. The bathing suits, in contrast to the regular attire of the housewives and other "sheep" who enter the store, draw attention to the girls' sexuality, which Sammy immediately takes note of. As the other employees and customers react to the girls, however, their bathing suits begin to symbolize a sort of freedom to Sammy, who finds it exciting that the girls flout the norms of social conduct. When Lengel reprimands the girls and accuses them of indecency, the bathing suits take on a different tint, akin more to sexual shame or, more accurately, sexual shaming.
Bathing Suits Quotes in A&P
The A&P quotes below all refer to the symbol of Bathing Suits. 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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Fawcett Columbine edition of A&P published in 1996.).
"Girls, I don't want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered. It's our policy."
Bathing Suits Symbol Timeline in A&P
The timeline below shows where the symbol Bathing Suits appears in A&P. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...in pin-curlers" glance back at the girls disapprovingly, however. As Sammy explains, seeing girls wearing bathing suits on a beach is one thing, but seeing them in an A&P grocery store is... (full context)