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Summary of "The Luncheon" by Somerset Maugham
Summary of 'The Luncheon'
The writer of 'The Luncheon' William Somerset Maugham, in this short story,relates about a lady who is an admirer of his stories. She wins the author's favour and expresses her wish to meet him at a high class restaurant.William exposes the false motives of modest eating habits, of the middle classes with a touch of humour.
Twenty years ago the author was living in Paris, when he had met a lady, who is an admirer of his stories. She had met him at a play and relates to him the incident during the interval which had occurred at that time. She had read a book written by him, and had written a letter to him about her views. Another letter was posted, stating about her visit to Paris and her desire to have a little luncheon at the Foyots, a restaurant where French senators eat. William was not a rich man and had never even thought of visiting that restaurant, nor did he possess the art of refusing her request.
Estimating the cost of a luncheon, which should not cost more than fifteen Francs,he decided to cut down coffee from his menu, so that he could have enough for himself for the next two weeks. His meeting was fixed on Thursday, at half past twelve, through correspondence.The lady was in her Forties, talkative, and not attractive. She had ordered for Salmon,and Caviare, while the Salmon was being prepared.William had ordered for the cheapest dish mutton- chops.
After the meal, she had ordered for white champagne. She kept enjoying the meal, and chatting about art, literature, and music, while William kept wondering about the bill.The bill of fare was soaring above that which he had anticipated.When the waiter had come with the bill she waived him aside with an air of gesture and ordered for Asparagus, the horribly expensive dish.William's heart sank, his mouth watered, and yet he had to quell his emotions.Adding to worsen the situation, she ordered for ice-cream and then coffee, all the same announcing that 'she never ate anything for luncheon - just a bite' Thoughts kept reeling through William's mind about how he was going to pay the exorbitant bill or how could he feign an act of his pocket having been picked.
To his utter dismay,the head waiter walked up to the table with a large basket full of huge Peaches.She picked up one protesting that her meal was just a snack, and that she could certainly enjoy the Peach.
The bill was finally paid, and William found himself with just a few Francs for the tips, and not a penny left in his pocket for the whole month. William believes, that he had had his revenge for then, when the Twenty years had passed by, he met her weighing One Hundred and Thirty -Six Kilograms.
Some questions answered:
1. How do you think there was a revenge? William Somerset is exposing the false motives of modest eating habits. The lady, only an admirer of the author does not even consider the rising bill that the author would have to pay rather giving in to her greed. He finds twenty years later that the lady had to pay for her greediness, then that she weighed One Hundred and Thirty -Six Kilograms, which Somerset refers to 'the revenge'.
2.Why had the writer never thought of eating at Foyot's restaurant? At the Foyot's restaurant the most expensive dishes are served as told in the Notes from London Daily Telegraph 18 August 1894 p6. William was a very rich man.
3. "I never eat anything for Luncheon"Explain how the woman contradicted this way in the way she behaved at the luncheon. Why did this upset the writer?At every sarcastic statement, the woman did exactly the opposite and the writer's bill kept rising he was at his wits end how he would be able to pay his bill since he knew he didn't have enough to pay the bill and just kept hoping that he would be able to pay the bill without any embarrassment.
4. What is the irony of the story?
Her remarks were sarcastic: "I never eat more than one thing for luncheon" "I'm not in the least hungry", yet she picked up a huge peach, she remarked her luncheon was just a snack " I never eat anything for luncheon", I'm not in the least hungry, "I never want more"," I couldn't possibly eat anything more."
This depicts the irony of the story.
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