What Is the Theme of the Short Story "A&P" by John Updike?

The theme of John Updike's classic story "A&P" is the power of desire. Sammy, overwhelmed by his desire to impress the girls, quits his job at the A&P because the manager confronted the girls over their indecent clothing.

The girls entered the A&P in their bathing suits, which was considered very improper for the time period. ("A&P" was written in 1961.) Their attire stimulated desire in each of the men in the store, who reacted in different ways. Though Sammy quit his job as an act of chivalry, the girls did not even notice or acknowledge him. The theme of desire is seen in the actions of the girls, seeking desire from the men, and in the men's reactions.