Irony In John Updike's The A And P

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In The A and P by John Updike, irony is very apparent throughout the actions of the main character. Sammy, the main character takes a stand for what he believes is right and expects a positive outcome but is surprised when his good deed goes unnoticed. From the beginning he puts one of the incoming teenage girls on a pedestal. From her actions and the way she presents herself in the grocery store with only a bathing suit on, he views her as the “queen bee” of her group of friends. The “leader” of the group of teenage girls is dubbed “queenie” by Sammy from the beginning. Queenie walks in with her two other friends. She is much more attractive than them which makes her appear even better to Sammy. He becomes infatuated with her from the beginning…show more content…
“She must have felt in the corner of her eye me and over my shoulder Stokesie in the second slot watching, but she didn't tip. Not this queen.” Along with Queenie’s exuberant confidence, Sammy is lured in by her physical appearance and sexuality as well. Sammy describes Queenie’s bathing suit as “…a kind of dirty-pink - - beige maybe…with a little nubble all over it…” symbolizing the similarity between her light skin and the color of the bathing suit and the nubble representing goose bumps on her skin. He also explains that her straps being down, especially intrigued him. “With the straps pushed off, there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head except just her... I mean, it was more than pretty.” The description of her bare shoulders shows the sexuality Queenie expresses. Queenie, without being overt, is still expressing her sexuality which is conveyed innocently. He is also drawn in by her unattainability. Coming to the end of the story, Sammy had become completely infatuated with Queenie. She was placed on a pedestal in Sammy’s mind. Irony becomes apparent in Sammy’s act to stand up for the girls when manager, Lengel reprimands them for their inappropriate attire, “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.”

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