Watch the good analysis for our first story, John Updike's A&P

"A&P" Analysis


Week 1 Assignment Reading a Story



A short story is a fictional account of something that happens to some person. When you read a story, identify the central character. Then watch for what happens to that person.


Setting is no less important than the events of the story. This lesson begins with a story set in a vivid environment (setting), with fine scenic rendering, concerned with epiphany (a revelation which alters a character's life).


To understand the reading assignment, do the following:


Read the biographical sketch of each author very thoroughly.


Read each work actively by making marginal notes, underlining important ideas, and writing your first impressions.


Find the meanings of words that you do not understand.


Determine what is happening, where it is occurring, and who is involved.


Read A&P on p. 17 in Literature


In "A & P" the central character tells his own story. In a good story the central character is changed by the events that happen. The events arise from the dramatic situation. This is a story of initiation into greater understanding or maturity.


Answer the following questions:

1. From the language and descriptions in the first two paragraphs, can you imagine the kind of person our narrator is? And how he looks at his job?


Why, for instance, does he see one woman as a "witch" and the others as "sheep"? And the store as a "pinball machine"?

Can you identify the central character of  "A & P" in the second sentence of the story?


What is the dramatic situation?

(For our purposes, plot means the artistic arrangement of the dramatic events.)


Write down a list of dramatic events from "A & P." What observations can you make about their arrangement? What can you say about the plot?


Why, exactly, does Sammy quit his job?


Does anything lead you to expect Sammy to make some gesture of sympathy for the three girls? What incident earlier in the story (before Sammy quits) seems a foreshadowing?


What do you understand form the conclusion of the story? What doe Sammy mean when he acknowledges “how hard the world was going to be…hereafter”?


What comment does Updike – through Sammy – make on supermarket society?

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