A Hollywood film actor who was very popular in the 1940s and the 1950s. His most famous leading role was the title character in the 1953 classic western "Shane."
An inflammation of the joints that usually occurs in knees, elbows, or shoulders.
In "A & P," Sammy uses this term as slang for a woman's rear end.
The upper section of a lobster.
Refers to classes held for Christian children and teens, intended to teach them theology and values. Catechism or "Sunday school" is present in both Catholic and Protestant traditions.
Short for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, a chemical pesticide. DDT was used heavily in agriculture after World War Two. In Silent Spring, which was published in the same year as "Pigeon Feathers," Rachel Carson suggested that DDT harms the environment and causes cancer in humans, causing a massive controversy about its use.
deus ex machina
Latin: "god out of the machine." In literature, a deus ex machina refers to a device used by an author that neatly solves an unsolvable problem through contrivance - the invention of a new character, rule, or flaw not previously established in the narrative.
Puttering around aimlessly.
A derogatory term used by David’s father for an especially feminine woman.
Sky, or the heavens.
In Greek mythology, the furies are a group of avenging female deities.
The brand name of one of the first radar detectors, a device used to determine if a car's speed is being monitored by police. These became popular in the 1970s and 1980s following the reduction of the national speed limit (Ha).
The handle that David’s Granmom uses to take hot flatirons off the stovetop.
A reference to Harry Houdini, a famous magician who lived from 1874 to 1926 and specialized in spectacular escapes.
An annual, post-season college football game held in Honolulu between 1947 and 2008.
A female lover.
A movie star in the 1940s and 50s known for her work in film noir classics such as "To Have and Have Not" and "The Big Sleep."
A moss-like growth.
A cavity that is made with grooves to hold something (usually a bolt or a screw) in securely.
A creeping shrubbery.
Religious devotion, faith.
Short for potassium carbonate or potassium hydroxide, both of which are commonly used in fertilizer.
A very steep decline.
A condition that advances with age where the eye loses ability to focus on near objects.
An amount measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity.
A colony of animals used for breeding, particularly birds.
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is a king whose greed is punished by an eternal task of pushing a large boulder up a hill, only to have the boulder repeatedly roll down from the peak. As an adjective, a task that is laborious yet pointless is said to echo Sisyphus' plight.
A checkout lane in a grocery store.
A kind of fertilizer that is usually airdropped in mass quantities.
A musical term for sounds that evoke trembling.
Zealous, ardent, impassioned.
Elsie Kern’s term for her mother’s hand, which “waggles” due to Parkinson’s disease.
A racial slur used for Italian-Americans. Although it is extremely offensive today, it was only a moderate insult--and thus used more frequently--when "Ace in the Hole" was published in 1953.
A&P and Other Stories Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for A&P and Other Stories is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Sammy understands that the world is not a fair place. He now sees the social, cultural, and sexual injustices that will never go away. Sammy knows that if the supermarket incident is strong enough to make him quit a job he needs, he will have a...
Detail gives us a sense of the cultural, sexual, and economic forces at play within the supermarket. Sammy must carefully consider all the details going on around him to make his final conclusion. The details help make Sammy's insight at the end...
In the final section of “A & P,” Updike explores the notion that policy is nothing more than enforced desire. As Sammy observes, “policy is what the kingpins want. What the others want is juvenile delinquency” (600). Those that make the rules...