In his short story, "A & P," author John Updike illustrates the life of an idolizing nineteen-year-old named Sammy through the teens private thoughts of his life and the lives of people around him. Sammy lives in a beach town just north of Boston where he works as a checkout clerk at A & P. Most of his days at work are long and repetitive, but he passes the time by categorizing and picking apart each customer that enters the establishment. The story develops when three girls walk into the grocery store in bathing suits and instantly catch his attention. Their presence changes the usual atmosphere and feeling of the store; the customers actually notice something other than a missed item on their shopping list. .
Sammy is bored. His entire world consists of the grocery store and the people who inhabit it. He is in a dead-end job, and there is not much to do in-between customers so Sam passes the time by analyzing customers and coworkers. Sam refers to the customers as "sheep" and "pigs" because of their herd like characteristics as they shop. Although there is no set regulations on how the customers should move through the isles, they seem to form their own orderly fashion, which reminds Sammy of sheep. .
Throughout the story, Sammy makes many negative comments about the people around him. In one situation, the presence of the girls distracts Sammy and he rings up a box of HiHo crackers twice, infuriating a customer. He describes her as being " One of these cash-register-watchers, a witch of about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I know it made her day to trip me up," sarcastically conveying his chauvinistic attitude toward women. The majority of negative comments that Sammy makes are about female shoppers. He describes them as; those older married women with multiple kids, the overweight lady who has no regrets wearing her bathing suit that doesn't quite cover, and nit picking old ladies who spend years trying to catch an error by a cashier.