A&P

by: John Updike

Important Quotations Explained

1. You never know for sure how girls’ minds work (do you really think it’s a mind in there or just a little buzz like a bee in a glass jar?).

Sammy speculates on the mental processes of girls early in the story, at the height of his confidence. Condescending and arrogant, he assumes that if he cannot understand the workings of a girl’s mind, it is because there is no mind there to understand. The opposite possibility—that it is his understanding that is limited—does not occur to him. Sammy’s male chauvinist attitude is mostly a pose, however, part of his idea of himself as the smart, sarcastic observer. This observation is actually linked to a close reading by Sammy of the body language and interaction of the three girls. Despite Sammy’s posing, he is deeply interested in women, both physically and mentally, although he is not as worldly or wise as he supposes.


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