John Updike

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Themes and Colors
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex, Gender, Power Theme Icon
Appearances and Inner Lives Theme Icon
Individualism and Ethics Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A&P, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Class Theme Icon

The girls in their bathing suits flaunt their wealth, as they've obviously been lounging by the pool or beach while the people in the store have been working. As Queenie speaks, Sammy envisions the type of background she might come from, coming into A&P to buy fancy herring snacks for her parents.

Sammy's defense of the girls also involves a hope of impressing them, but they shuffle out of the store without taking any notice of his sacrifice on their behalf. He is from a lower class and is beneath them, which adds another element to the foreboding feeling he has about his future. Looking back at Lengel's weariness, he realizes that he, like Lengel, is stuck in the working class. While the girls' class protects them from the consequences of their actions—Queenie draws from a reserve of superiority when she remembers her place in the confrontation with Lengel—Sammy has to face the consequences of his actions without any protection of wealth or class.

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Class ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Class appears in each section of A&P. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Class Quotes in A&P

Below you will find the important quotes in A&P related to the theme of Class.
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:

"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:

The girls, and who'd blame them, are in a hurry to get out, so I say "I quit" to Lengel quick enough for them to hear, hoping they'll stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero. They keep right on going, into the electric eye […]

Related Characters: Sammy (speaker), Queenie, Lengel
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

I could see Lengel in my place in the slot, checking the sheep through. His face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he'd just had an injection of iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.

Related Characters: Sammy (speaker)
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis: