54 pages 1 hour read

John Updike


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1961

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  • Genre: Short fiction; realistic fiction
  • Originally Published: 1961
  • Reading Level/Interest: Adult; grades 9-12
  • Structure/Length: Approx. 6 pages
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: Sammy, the teen narrator, is working at a grocery store in town during the summer when a group of girls wearing only bathing suits enters the store and brings their goods to the checkout counter; Sammy is awed by their boldness and beauty, ascribing not only a socioeconomic level—higher than his own middle-class status among the other consumerist “sheep” shoppers—but also a specific personality to the one he names “Queenie” in his mind; when the manager emerges and embarrasses the girls by banishing them from the store based on their attire, Sammy makes a rebellious statement by quitting his needed job on the spot, but quickly realizes that he has set a course for his future based on desire and conjecture
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Content includes female body objectification and misogynism.

John Updike, Author

  • Bio: 1932-2009; born in Pennsylvania; his father taught math and his mother was a fiction writer; obtained a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1954, spending most of his life in Massachusetts thereafter; began writing short stories, essays, poetry, and criticism for The New Yorker magazine in 1955 and published over 50 books in his lifetime, including his famous Rabbit Angstrom novel series; winner of the National Book Award, American Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and National Arts Club Medal of Honor; awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for Rabbit Is Rich and another in 1990 for Rabbit At Rest
  • Other Works: The Carpenter Hen and Other Tame Creatures (poems) (1958); “The Happiest I’ve Been” (1958); The Centaur (1963); The Witches of Eastwick (1984); Just Looking (essays) (1989); Gertrude and Claudius (2000)