John Updike’s short story “A & P” tells a hometown tale about a young fellow working in an A & P grocery store and a small encounter he had with three young ladies and their presence in the store. In the story, the three young ladies entered the A & P store wearing swimsuits, something you wouldn’t normally see someone wearing on their trip to purchase a few homely needs. Of course to the male workers as well as other people in the store these ladies are quite eye catching. No doubt they were wearing the wrong apparel for the place they were in. Eventually, the uptight store manager notices these young ladies as they were paying for their items and gave them an embarrassing lecture about how their clothing was inappropriate and that they shouldn’t ever wear swimsuits to his store again. The main character, being a worker there doesn’t take well to the manager’s behavior and quits his job right after.
Updike shows the concept of space and place when the girls first entered the store. They were very out of place wearing swimsuits in the store but outside of the store it was summer, they would have fit in just fine at the beach or outside. We see the concept of place defining what is acceptable and what isn’t and how it can dictate the decisions people make as well as their actions. Another example of this was when Sammy from the story quit his job. He had lost his place in the store as well as society. He had no job now and put himself in the pits. He even said how he could “feel how hard the world was going to be to [him] from hereafter. This shows how he lost his place and now he’d have to find a new one. The story shows how people can control places and places can control people and as always it’s a matter of perspective.