The narrator. Sammy is a nineteen-year-old boy working the checkout line at an A&P in a small New England town. When three girls come into the store wearing only bathing suits and are chastised by the store manager, Sammy quits his job, hoping to impress them, and is then filled with foreboding about the future.
A teenage girl who enters the A&P in her bathing suit and is nicknamed “Queenie” by Sammy. Queenie, the attractive leader of the three girls, rouses Sammy’s desire from the minute he sees her. When the store manager reprimands her for wearing only a bathing suit in the store, she defends herself by saying she needs to buy herring snacks for her mother. Her response suggests to Sammy a sophisticated world very different from the one in which his own family lives.
The manager of the A&P. Lengel is a by-the-books manager, as well as a Sunday-school teacher. Stuffy and uptight, Lengel is, to Sammy, a prisoner of the system as well as an authority figure. Lengel confronts the girls about their skimpy attire, embarrassing them and angering Sammy.
A checkout clerk at the A&P. Although Stokesie is only a few years older than Sammy, he is already married and has two children. Sammy condescends to Stokesie, who intends to make a career out of working at the A&P. However, Sammy also identifies with Stokesie in some ways and sees him as a cautionary example of how he himself might end up.
The First Friend (“Plaid”) -
One of the three girls who wear bathing suits into the A&P. The first friend is somewhat attractive, but she is overshadowed by the girl Sammy calls Queenie.
The Second Friend (“Big Tall Goony Goony”) -
One of the three girls who wear bathing suits into the A&P. The second friend serves as a contrast to the most attractive girl, whom Sammy calls Queenie.