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“A & P” by John Updike

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“A & P” by John Updike. Choose a vocabulary foldable and create– must have room for word , definition , and picture/example (13 words on next slide). Literary Devices Use literature books pages R1-R17 to define!. Simile: Metaphor: Imagery: Hyperbole: Personification: Onomatopoeia:

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Choose a vocabulary foldable and create– must have room for word, definition, and picture/example (13 words on next slide).
literary devices use literature books pages r1 r17 to define
Literary DevicesUse literature books pages R1-R17 to define!














Literary DevicesWrite these terms on the left side of your paper. Use the literature book to define them.

Simile: comparison using “like or as”

Metaphor: comparing 2 or more things w/o using “like or as”

Imagery: vivid language; “word pictures”

Hyperbole: like a simile; extreme exag.

Personification: giving human characteristics to something non-human

Onomatopoeia: words that sound like what they are (ex: buzz, zap, pow)

Alliteration: same beginning sounds (ex: Peter Piper Picked...)
  • Allusion: reference to something in history, art, literature
  • Protagonist: main character
  • Antagonist: character that goes against the protagonist; causes conflict
  • Symbol: something that represents for something
  • Theme: main/overall message
  • Tone: the attitude the overall feeling of the story
use a piece of blank paper to create your own piece of the pie foldable
Use a piece of blank paper to create your own “Piece of the Pie” foldable.

“A & P”


john updike 1932 2009
John Updike (1932-2009)

*Choose 3 facts about Updike to add to notes

John Updike was born in Reading in Pennsylvania, his mother encouraged him to write. In his childhood Updike lived in an isolated farm and he escaped to the world of mystery novels.

Updike attended Harvard

Updike majored in English in 1954, and contributed to and later edited the Harvard Lampoon. He started as a cartoonist, but then shifted to poetry and prose.

From the age of 23, Updike supported himself by writing.

Updike has lived in New England, where most of his fiction is set, and in Massachusetts, about twenty miles from Boston.

He has become one of the most successful American writers

"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them."

john hoyer updike 1932 2009
John Hoyer Updike (1932-2009)

An American novelist, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic

Born March 18, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania

Received a full scholarship & attended Harvard-; graduated summa cum laude (English)

Following college Updike moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts (the basis for Eastwick in the book and movie The Witches of Eastwick)

Most famous works is Rabbit Series

Received Pulitzer Prize for Rabbit Series

In his memoir, Self Consciousness Updike writes a letter to his grandsons Anoff and Kwame, about the Updike family history, and asks that they not be ashamed of their skin. (His grandsons are half black, their father being from West Africa.)

Updike has four children and currently lives in Massachusetts with his second wife, Martha.

A large anthology of short stories from his literary career, titled The Early Stories 1953–1975 (2003) won the 2004 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

In 2006 Updike was awarded the Rea Award for Short Story.

James Schiff, Review: "John Updike's Rabbit Tetralogy: Mastered Irony in Motion," Christianity and Literature, Autumn 2001, accessed 1-9-08

john updike quotations
John Updike Quotations
  • "My mother had dreams of being a writer and I used to see her type in the front room. The front room is also where I would go when I was sick so I would sit there and watch her." (2004 interview with Academy of Achievement (source:
  • "Freedom is a blanket which, pulled up to the chin, uncovers the feet." (The Coup)
  • "Fame is a mask that eats into the face." (Self-Consciousness)
  • "America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy." ("How To Love America (And Leave It At The Same Time)" [Problems And Other Stories])
  • "Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings." ("A Month of Sundays")
  • "He had met the little death that awaits athletes. He had retired." ("Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," The New Yorker, 1960)
  • "Gods do not answer letters." ("Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," The New Yorker, 1960)
  • Men are all heart and Women are all body. I don't know who has the brains. God maybe." (Rabbit, Run)
  • "The great thing about the dead, they make space." (Rabbit is Rich)
  • "Tell your mother, if she asks, that maybe we'll meet some other time. Under the pear trees, in Paradise." (Rabbit at Rest)
  • "We all dream, and we all stand aghast at the mouth of the caves of our deaths; and this is our way in. Into the nether world." (The Witches of Eastwick)
cultural references
Cultural References

In an episode of the animated series The Simpsons, “Insane Clown Poppy,” John Updike is the ghost writer of a book that Krusty the Clown is promoting. The book's title is "Your Shoes Too Big To Kickbox God," a 20-page book written entirely by John Updike as a money-making scam.

a p quickwrite
“A & P” Quickwrite

Respond: Is there a difference between the way that males and females act and behave when they see someone they might like and be interested in? Do males sometimes react without thinking? Do women also react without thinking? Describe a scene (incident) that you have witnessed in real life or watched on television that shows the difference in the way that males and females act when they want to impress somebody they like.


Have you ever been involved in or witness to something that was happening that you knew was wrong? What did you do about it? Did you stand up for what you believed in or did you stay quite because you knew that saying something would cost you a lot in the end? How do you feel about your decision now- was it worth it? Did it turn out to be the best decision?

post it note responses underline
Post it Note Responses (underline)

Thinking Mind Wandering

Feelings Connections

Confused AHA

S= simile



O= Onomatopoeia




“A & P”

Post Reading


“A &P” Comprehension QuestionsWrite this down on separate sheet of paper in Cornell Notes Style. Left side write “Question 1,” “Question 2,” etc

  • 1. Describe the narrator in "A & P." Why has Updike chosen this kind of narrator for his story?
  • 2. (Characterization) In “A & P,” the narrator makes a decision-a rather quick and rash one. Why does he do it? (there may be more than 1 reason)
  • 3. (Evaluation) Was it the right thing to do? Is he a hero? Why or why not (you opinion)?
  • 4. (Symbolism) What do the girls represent?
  • 5. What does the last line of the story mean?
“A &P”

1. Describe the narrator in "A & P." Why has Updike chosen this kind of narrator for his story?

The author uses Sammy as the narrator so that the reader can experience the events in the store through his eyes.  The narrator gives the reader a colorful accounting of what is going on in the store, describing the usual shoppers, women, housewives as sheep. 

The author uses Sammy as the narrator because:

"Young people seem to identify with Sammy and respond to the way he tells his story."

The perception of the narrator is that of a young person looking at the adult world and finding fault with it, making fun of what grownups to and how they do it.  He is critical with a cynical tone in the story.  He is bored with his job, the only amusement he has is to make fun of the customers in his mind. 

He feels like he hit the jackpot when three girls, dressed only in bathing suits, come into the store.  Sammy can't take his eyes off of them, they completely throw him off balance.

“A &P”

2. (Characterization) In “A & P,” the narrator makes a decision-a rather quick and rash one. Why does he do it? (there may be more than 1 reason)

Sammy is a nineteen year old boy who works in the A & P supermarket.  One day a trio of girls, dressed only in bathing suits, comes into the store and Sammy cannot keep his eyes off of them.  They, of course, are dressed inappropriately for shopping in the store, and when the manager informs the girls that they should dress properly to shop in the store, Sammy feels he must protest.

"When Sammy quits in protest of how the girls were treated by the store's manager, he perceives that from now on, the world will be a more difficult place." 

Sammy's act of defiance in the presence of the manager's reprimand has consequences that he probably has not thought all the way through. 

Quitting his job is an act of the impetuousness (hasty, rash) of youth, for a brief moment, he feels a strong connection with the girls.  

Sammy feels like he is expressing his individuality by standing up for something he believes in by quitting his job on the spot.

“A &P”

3. (Evaluation) Was it the right thing to do? Is he a hero? Why or why not (you opinion)?

No, Sammy would not be characterized as a hero.  His actions were foolish, actually, and immature.  By quitting his job, he has made a huge mistake and he realizes at the end of the story that life is much harder and will be much harder than he ever anticipated.  He seems to realize the foolishness and hasty nature of his actions.  Because he wanted to impress the oldest girl in the group of girls that were in the store, he resorted to try to "take up" for them; however, in doing so, he overstepped his boundaries and thought he would be seen as a hero by the girls.  As he walks out, though, the girls are gone and he realizes that he is not a hero at all.

On the other side, Updike does make Sammy heroic.  His heroism is flawed, as is true of most modern protagonists, but it is present.  He is offended by the treatment the girls receive.  Granted, his offense is in direct proportion of his attraction, but there is validity to it.  Sammy makes judgments about all the customers at the store, but he does not stoop to insult any of them.  He treats them all the same, and expects his manager to.  However, as a well-raised young man, Sammy would not consider challenging authority.  The girls provide a change.  Sammy finds in them the impetus he needs to challenge society, challenge authority.  Although readers can argue he only wants the girls attention, it is important to note that the girls ignore him.  Sammy knows that they are ignoring him, but he still walks out.  He does not try to talk his way out of the situation, he does not allow Lengel to convince him to stay.  Sammy, having been given the opportunity, now wants to see it through.  That is heroic, the conviction to beliefs that he shows as protagonists, especially when coupled with his epiphany of  "how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter''.

“A &P”

4. What do the girls represent?

5. What does the last line of the story mean?

You share your opinions

a p figurative language wheel
“A & P” Figurative Language Wheel

What’s a simile?

Find the simile in par. 3

“…down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal jilted in the light” (par. 3).

What is imagery?

Find the example of imagery in par. 2

“…it was bright green and the seams of the bra were still sharp and her belly was still pretty pale…” (par 2).

a p figurative language
“A & P” Figurative Language

Metaphor: paragraphs 5, 20, 30

Imagery: 1, 2, 3

Hyperbole: 1

Onomatopoeia: 2, 5, 20, 29

Alliteration: 3

Allusion: 2, 7, 11

Setting: (all paragraphs) and paragraph 9

Protagonist: (all paragraphs) Who is he?

Antagonist: (introduce him in paragraph 12)

Symbols: What does the Apron (pars. 28 & 29) symbolize, what might

the girls symbolize?

Personification: 20, 29

Point of View: (all paragraphs)

Theme: (all paragraphs)

Mood/Tone/Attitude: (all paragraphs)

Your Choice: (choose any of them to write about again)

Simile: many examples- you find on your own

a p mystery quiz
“A & P” Mystery Quiz

Quote a spot where a reference is made to a character in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Quote a place where a person is described like a can of soup.

Quote a spot to a common and popular game.

Quote a reference to a place famous for beans.

Quote a reference to a great place for a vacation.

cited sources
Cited Sources

^ Osen, Diane. "Interview with John Updike", The National Book Foundation. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-07-10.

^ James Schiff, Review: "John Updike's Rabbit Tetralogy: Mastered Irony in Motion," Christianity and Literature, Autumn 2001, accessed 1-9-08, link.

^"Celebrities With Psoriasis"