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A&P | Quotes


She's one of these cash-register-watchers ... I know it made her day to trip me up.


Sammy's resents how customers treat him as a cashier, which shows this statement about the older woman who tells him off for ringing up her HiHo crackers twice. It is typical of his description of customers that he doesn't see their side of the story—especially not an older woman wearing too much makeup. Yet, when the customer is an underdog—and a beautiful one wearing just a bathing suit—he finds it easy to take her side.


You could set off dynamite ... and the people would ... keep checking oatmeal off their lists.


Sammy sees the A&P customers as stuck in a rut they don't want to get out of. One symptom of that is focusing on their shopping lists and ignoring everyone and everything around them, no matter what.


There's people in this town haven't seen the ocean for twenty years.


Even though their town is only five miles from the ocean, people don't go there. This is another observation Sammy makes that emphasizes how set in their ways the locals are—and how unusual it is to see three girls in bathing suits in town, much less in the A&P.


Poor kids, I began to feel sorry for them, they couldn't help it.


After staring at the girls himself and indulging in a few jokes about them with Stokesie, Sammy has a sudden change of heart when he sees McMahon, the middle-aged man who works behind the meat counter, ogling them. He sees that, once the girls are in the store, they can't avoid being stared at lasciviously by the men or in shock by the women. This realization is the beginning of the end for Sammy; once he sees the girls as victims, he will inevitably disapprove of Lengel's comments, which will lead to Sammy quitting his job.


Girls, this isn't the beach.


Rather than say exactly what he means, Lengel states his disapproval of the girls' appearance indirectly by drawing attention to the context in which their clothes would be appropriate. He believes there is a place for everything and everything should stay in its place. Bathing suits belong at the beach and not in the A&P. Anything else isn't proper.


My mother asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks.


Queenie doesn't state what she means directly, which is that it's not the girls' fault they're in the A&P in bathing suits. That's what they were wearing when her mother sent them to the store. If Lengel doesn't like what they are wearing, he should blame her mother and not them. Moreover, the girls are doing a favor for Queenie's mother, which is a good, and appropriate, thing to do. He should take that into consideration, too, but he does not as his position does not permit him to.


Policy is what the kingpins want. What the others want is juvenile delinquency.


Lengel has just told the girls that it's store policy for customers to have their shoulders covered when shopping. Sammy sees the issue of policy as a sort of class divide between the kingpins—the older folks with the power to say how things have to be done versus the rest, who have to rebel to do things their way.


I say 'I quit' to Lengel quick enough for them to hear ... their unsuspected hero.


Sammy's immediate goal in quitting is to impress the girls, as this sentence makes clear. His reasons for going through with it and the likely consequences of his decision are more complex.


It was they who were embarrassing us.


Lengel's statement is the crux of the matter. Sammy—at 19—sees the girls' point of view, but no one else's. Lengel's perspective is more mature. He tries to tell Sammy that what the girls wore while shopping affected everyone in the store and even affected how customers might view the A&P.


Once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with it.


Lengel tries to talk Sammy out of quitting by reminding him it will hurt his parents, who are friends of Lengel's. Although Sammy realizes this is true and already slightly regrets his impulsive decision to quit, his pride won't let him change his mind. He made a gesture in support of those he called "my girls," and now he must follow through on his decision.


I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.


Having quit, Sammy ends the story with this realization. He looks into the shop and sees Lengel doing Sammy's job. Sammy finds himself caught between his comfortable, safe past and an uncertain, challenging future.

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