In this story, John Updike attempts to show the different stages of life in which people in different age groups tend to live. He puts up this concept through the speaker who sat at the second checkout with his back to the door indicating that he has locked himself out from what the outside world had to offer to the people in his age group. This being the case, the story revolves around the three girls who seem to be out of place when viewed by other people but at the same time open the speaker’s eyes to know that there is more to life than the life he is currently living. Also, the three girls make It known that times have changed, in that the new generation have a new and different way of doing things/living that the earlier generation did not recognize. These aspects are brought about by metaphors and similes that bring about the way of life the people in the new generation live. He creates the metaphors from, colors, shapes, physical appearance and the state of a person (Fandel, 23).

The speaker presents the metaphor of the three girls walking into the store wearing nothing but bathing suits. There is no suit for bathing. However, this term means that most of their physical features are exposed therefore depicting boldness and transparency of the three girls (Updike). This metaphor is fitting in this context both in literal aspect and physical aspect to show the generational differences as the earlier generations only exposed some parts of their bodies and considered excess exposure to be shameful. Also, they were less transparent in showing what they wanted in life which is not the case for the new generation. In this metaphor, the speaker discovers that, although he is a new generation person, he lives with the rules followed by the earlier generation as he is just nineteen years old (Updike).  None the less, by being transparent, the speaker will be able to make more discoveries about himself and of this earth as depicted by the metaphor, ‘they did ‘t even have shoes on’ showing that the girls are living without fear hence not protecting themselves to discover something.

The speaker describes the women who lived in the town as having varicose veins mapping their legs. The metaphor mapping indicates an established way or rather a road that leads to a specific place. On the other hand, varicose veins refers are protrusions of veins in the legs that render the legs not to appear smooth anymore. These words have been metaphorically used to indicate that the old women in the town lived a predictable life that led to a specific place which everyone knew. Also, the metaphor of varicose veins indicates that the destination indicated by the map is not as thrilling as it ought to be. These metaphors are fitting in this context in that they bring about the difference in the rules being followed by the people in the two generations in the view of the earlier generation. By indicating the state of the women of the earlier generation, the speaker discovers that he does not want that to be his predicament (Anderson). In this context, the speaker shows his interests in undertaking a different course of life by taking a different path than the one that was chosen by the earlier generation. The speaker described the girl’s movement to be like a pinball whereby one would not guess which tunnel they would come out of; this is the way the speaker ought to have lived if he did not live by following a map (Updike). This metaphor is further emphasized by the phrase uttered by the store’s manager where he said, ‘you do not want to do this to your mom and dad.’ This indicates that the speakers parents had already planned the life he was to live and actually, he had been living by their rules diligently which depict that he was following a map.

The speaker describes the leader of the girls group as a queen (Updike); this metaphor refers to royalty in that all people in her kingdom bow to her. She is the leader of the people and her followers do everything she does to fit in. This metaphor is appropriate to bring about the meaning of this short story in that although the other girls were not following the ‘maps’ of the old generation, they were still learning on how to become independent and reach their full potential as the ‘queen’ had . This means that the people in the new generation, since they operate in a trial and error way, it takes time for them to reach their full potential (Anderson). This being the case, they lose their independence to live the life of a person who has already discovered herself. Therefore, they do everything she does and follow her everywhere she goes like sheep (Updike). By using this metaphor, the speaker brings out the fact that everyone has a different destiny which is not preconceived by other people, and to discover it; one has to go out and explore. As a result, the speaker is laying out the strategy to follow to realize ones potential in the current generation. The uncertainty of finding out your true destiny is denoted by the metaphor saying that ‘queenie is leading the way holding the gray jar.’ (Updike).Thus indicating that although she is the leader of the group of girls, she is also unsure of her future as gray is a mixture of black and white. Therefore, one cannot tell the kind of future one is riding towards. Some of the metaphors that complement this concept are the plaid green two-piece of the chunky girl that denotes that although she had just joined the way of life of the new generation people. This means that people are at different stages in finding their true destiny (Anderson).

In conclusion, the metaphors in this short story bring about the differences between the way of life of the new generation and the earlier generation. By using the colors, physical appearance, and the state of people and the movements of the girls in the store. One can depict the specific differences that exist between the two groups. In general, the speaker denotes that to have a different life and future one has to undertake a different path that is unknown and try new things instead of following a specified way of doing things like following a map (Updike).

Work cited

Fandel, Jennifer. Metaphors, Similes, and Other Word Pictures. Mankato, Minn: Creative Education, 2006. Print.

Anderson, Laurie H. Speak. , 1999. Internet resource.

John Updike, A&P



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