The Significance of Minor Characters in "A&P"

Topics: John Updike, Short story, Boy Pages: 3 (1221 words) Published: February 7, 2011
Dave Epstein
Jennifer Kaufman
Eng 102-8
Short Story Essay #2- Essay 1 Revision-“A&P”
Word Count: 1172
“The Significance of Minor Characters in “A&P” ”
Minor characters are crucial to a reader’s understanding of any story. In John Updike’s short story, “A&P” this idea is very apparent. In this short story, two of the minor characters are quite important. These two minor characters are Queenie, a young women shopper and Lengel, the manager of the A&P. Qeenie and Lengel are vital minor characters, as Updike uses them for the reader’s understanding of the young adult main character, Sammy, including his personality and motivations, which provides further understanding of the story.

In John Updike’s “A&P” Queenie is the lead girl if a group of girls who walk into the A&P. “She kind of led them” (17), as Updike puts it. These girls, including Queenie, are all wearing bathing suits, which at the time the story was written, was considered quite risqué. Sammy refers to this girl as Queenie because as he puts it, “- and then the third one, that wasn’t so tall. "She was the queen” (17). Based on how much Sammy talks about her and the way he does it, Queenie is his favorite girl of the group. Lengel is the manager of the A&P. According to Sammy, “Lengel’s pretty dreary, teaches Sunday school and the rest, but he doesn’t miss much.” (19) He’s a quiet man, “as I say, he doesn’t say much” (19), but he starts the controversy that eventually leads to Sammy quitting his job. The way Sammy thinks of and talks about Queenie reveals parts of his personality and motivations. As for Lengel, the manor which Sammy interacts and when Sammy interacts with him reveals parts of Sammy’s personality and motivations, as it does with Queenie.

Throughout “A&P,” Queenie and Lengel enlighten the reader’s understanding of Sammy’s personality. Queenie, as the lead girl, has Sammy’s hormones raging throughout the story and shows the reader how...
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