The conflict in this short story is apparent in the differing point-of-views of these conflicting social classes. Sammy, the checker narrator and unappreciated, unsuspected hero, depicts the dividing line, or is in a sense the middleman. There are three social classes which are very distinct within “A & P. ” These social classes are all portrayed through Sam’s description of the events of the fateful Thursday afternoon.
This afternoon is when the girls, lead by the one Sammy calls Queenie, entered the A & P to purchase the jar of herring snacks. Sammy, the unrequited hero, makes up the first of the three groups represented. He is the embodiment of the middle class, the observer and classifier. His descriptions are from a point of view, which is as if he was brought up in the upper class setting, but never truly saw himself as belonging there. The girls, all three of them, make up the third group representing the lower class.
These girls obviously know their standing in this society, “getting sore now that she remembers her place, a place from whichâ€¦ must look pretty crummy,” but are however trying to act as if understanding this doesn’t effect them in their search for the “Fancy” herring snacks. This ploy is not effective enough since Queenie is apparently instructing her friends, “you got the idea she had talked the other two into coming in here with her, and now she was showing them how to do it, walk slow and hold yourself straight. Taking into account these girls were dressed only in bathing suits, they caught not only the eye of Sammy but of many others in the store, including the manager, Lengel. Who, makes up the third social class in which he is representative of the upper class. However Lengel is just within the lower portion of this snooty upper class. Considering Lengel also is the one to instigate the actual verbal conflict, it is apparent his job is to adhere to and police the guidelines of the different social classes.
He is to be aware of the attempts of others around him to try and cross those barriers, he “teaches Sunday school and the rest, but he doesn’t miss that much. ” Since these social classes are not clearly divided within the short story they are described with the other in mind. They are related to in degrees of each other, in the opinion of Sammy. Since Sammy is the one dividing the groups and calling them on what they actually are, he unknowingly gets caught in the middle where not even he could foresee himself being placed.