The action of “A & P” takes place in a grocery store in a town north of Boston that is five miles from the nearest beach. Updike told Short Stories for Students that he wrote “A & P” “in 1961, when I was living in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Driving past the local A & P, I asked myself, Why are there no short stories that take place inside an A & P?’ I proceeded to write one, based on a glimpse I had had of some girls in bathing suits shopping in the aisles. They looked strikingly naked.” Updike added: “Originally the story went on, past the ending it now has: Sammy goes down to the beach to find the girls, and never does find them. But the story’s editor at the New Yorker thought that the story ended where it now does, and I agreed with him.”

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