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A&P Worksheet

A&P Worksheet

Don't understand some of these terms? See Narrative or Literary Terms.

1. Narrative elements and narrative structure:

  1.  Explain where the exposition occurs and how many paragraphs it makes.
  2. Use the word exposition as you describe where the exposition occurs in the story.
  3. What makes it effective? Is there something special that the author does to cause the reader to read more? Say what that is.
  4. Quote from the story to demonstrate where the exposition is.
  5. What is the dramatic situationin the exposition? Summarize simply, in one sentence.
  6. What is the rising action and what makes it effective?
  7. What is the complication? Paraphrase briefly.
  8. Where is the climax, the moment of high tension?
  9. What is effective about it?
  10. Is there more than one? Explain.
  11. How do these instances of high tension promote the story?
  12. Quote from the story to demonstrate what happens during the climax.
  13. Does the story begin in medias res?
  14. Is there foreshadowing in the story? Example. Why is it important?
  15. Is there a use of flashback in the story? What effect does it have on the development of the story?
  16. What is the resolution or outcome of this story? What does the ending of the story tell the reader about the character? How does the ending fit in with the theme? (You may need to answer the questions before responding.)

2. Theme / Issues / Ideologies :

A) We can derive theme by examining conflicts. Answer the following.

  • Sammy is in conflict with Lengel, his boss for several reasons.(List these.);
  • The girls are also in conflict with Lengel. (Reason/s?);
  • Sammy is also antagonistic towards the middle class mothers - “witches”, “sheep”. (What are his reasons? Updike's?;
  • Also the supermarket itself ,“pinball machine”. (Reasons?);
  • Is there anything common between all of these conflicts?

(Context : In the late fifties (think of ‘Happy Days’ or ‘Pleasantville’) Sammy's form of rebellion would be uncharacteristic and unusual.)


  1. What is Sammy rebelling against and why?
  2. Are the girls rebelling at all? (Would YOU do this forty years ago – ie different and more conservative era?) Are they innocent victims?
  3. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? (protagonists and antagonists)
  4. Why does Sammy quit?
  5. What has SOCIAL CLASS got to do with the conflicts in this story?
  6. Are any groups marginalized? Who has power here? Rank the power structure. What kind of power does Sammy have and use?
  7. How do the girls become like supermarket commodities?
  8. What are some significant ideologies at play in this story?
  9. What are some possible themes?

3. Character:

  1. What is Sammy’s attitude towards girls? What does he say about their brains? What does he focus on as they walk around? Evidence / quotes? Why Queenie, Plaid, Goony Goony etc? Ie, why these particular names?

4. Plot :

  1. Is time compressed or expanded? Where?
  2. How long does this whole episode of the story take?
  3. Explain how Updike has used narrative structure to position the reader in any ways.

5. Symbolism :

  1. What is the significance about the difference between the effects of fluorescent light, and sunlight in the story?
  2. How are these different types of light connected to diiferent ways of looking at the world and different understandings?
  3. What does Sammy realize when he steps out into the sunlight? What “delusions” may he have been under inside in the artificial light?

6.  Point of View:

  1. For what reasons do you believe Updike chose to write A&P from the first person point of view?
  2. Are Sammy’s views, John Updikes views? If not, why not?
  3. Are there any limitations to Sammy’s understanding?
  4. In what way does Updike’s selection and use of point of view position the reader to respond to his themes?

7. Language :

  1. How is the language used by Sammy, adolescent? Provide examples of Sammy sounding like a teenager. Why has Updike done this? How does Sammy’s language position the reader?


8.  Setting:

  1. How does Updike's construction of setting help to develop theme?

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