Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Luncheon Q&A

(The Luncheon by William Somerset Maugham.Taken from An Anthology of Short Stories for students of ICSE Schools,India)

I

1.When did the incident, referred to in the extract, take place? Where was the author living then? What was his financial condition?
This incident took place twenty years back when the writer was living in the Latin Quarters,overlooking the cemetery, in Paris. The writer financial condition was very bad and he was barely making enough to keep body and soul together.

2.On whose request was the lunch arranged? What did the lady tell him about the schedule of her visit?
The lunch was arranged at the request of the lady who had read the book of the writer and wanted to meet him. The lady told him that she was passing through Paris and had very limited time to meet the writer.

3.Why was the author flattered and whey couldn’t he say no to a woman?
The author was flattered because the woman had sent him a note saying that she had read his book. He could not say no to the woman because the author says that he was too young to have learnt to say no to a woman who had asked him a favour.

4.What character traits of the author and the woman are highlighted in the beginning of the story?
The character traits of the author that are highlighted in the story are :
- the author could not say no easily.
- he had a soft corner for women.
- he would fall prey to flattery.

The character traits of the woman are :
- she was very confident of her abilities
- she was a big talker.
- she was a greedy eater.
- she was not considerate to others.
- she had the ability to exploit people, especially men.
- she was insincere

5.In what way does the author show, in the extract, that he was not very affluent?
The author shows that that he was not affluent by saying that the lived in the Latin Quarters that overlooked the cemetery. This was not a location where the affluent stayed. He also says that the earned barely enough to keep body and soul together. Further, he says that he had only eighty francs to last him for the whole of the month.

II.

1.Name the restaurant at which the author and the lady were planning to have a meal. In the estimation of the author, how much would be the sot of the meal.
Foyot’s was the restaurant where the author and the lady were planning to have a meal. In the opinion of the author the meal would cost about fifteen francs.

2.In what way does the lady reassure the author about her eating habits?
When the bill of fare was presented to the author the author realized that the restaurant was more expensive than he had thought. However, the lady reassured the author by saying that she never had more than one thing for luncheon.

3. What food item did she choose for herself? What did the waiter say to indicate that the food item was rare?
The food items that the woman choose for herself are as under :
- Salmon fish.
- Caviar
- Champagne
- Asparagus
- Ice Cream & Coffee
- Peaches
The waiter said that the Salmon which was ordered for the woman was the first one that had come that season. This indicated that the Salmon was rare.

4. While the food was being cooked what was ordered? What was the effect of ordering the second item on the author?
While the food was being cooked the woman asked for Caviar to be ordered. The authors heart sank when the woman asked for Caviar. The author knew that Caviar was a very expensive dish and was something that he could not afford.

5.How did the author plan to economize by ordering a cheap dish for himself? What was the attitude of the lady about that particular food item.
The author planned to economize by ordering a mutton chop for himself. The author knew the only way of reducing the total bill would be to order the cheapest items for himself. The attitude of the lady about this particular food item was that she said that it was unwise to eat meat. She felt that meat was very heavy and that it would overload the stomach and it would be difficult to do any work after eating meat.

6. How can you conclude from the extract about the insincerity of the lady?
We can conclude about the insincerity of the lady from the extract because before commencing the luncheon the lady said that she had only “one thing for lunch”.However, as the lunch progressed, she ordered many of the most expensive items on the menu of Foyot’s restaurant.This shows that she did not practice what she preached and that she was insincere.

III.

1. Why did the author turn a trifle pale? Why did he say that his doctor had forbidden him to drink champagne.
The author turned a trifle pale because the woman ordered for Champagne – which was a unexpected for the author. The author had only a limited budget for the luncheon and turned pale because he knew that the champagne would stretch the budget, for the luncheon, beyond his means. He said that his doctor had forbidden him to drink champagne since this was the only way he could avoid drinking champagne himself and therefore could order only for the lady.

2.What was the lady’s attitude on the author eating mutton chop?
The lady’s attitude on the author eating mutton chop was that she said that one should never eat mutton chop as it settles very heavily on the stomach. She said that one cannot do any work after eating mutton chop.

3.Irony is a statement whose intended meaning is quite the contrary to the apparent or literal meaning. In this context, explain why the lady’s repeats, “ I am only going to each one thing”
It was an irony that the lady kept saying that the would eat only one thing. It is an irony because even though she said that she would eat only one thing, she kept on order one item after the other. Also, each items she ordered were among the most expensive items on the menu.
It was also an irony because the lady kept saying that she was a light eater and that one should eat only till one is 80% full. However, from the amount of food she consume – she did not herself indicate that the ate till 80% full. She ate till she was completely full.

4.How does the lady prepare the ground before ordering for some giant asparagus? What impact did it have on the author?
The lady prepares the ground before ordering some giant asparagus by saying that she would be sorry to leave Paris without having some giant asparagus. She says that she could not eat anything more unless they were those giant asparagus. The authors heart sinks when he hears the lady say that she wanted asparagus. While the author himself wanted to eat asparagus he had never in the past ordered for those as he knew that the could not afford them.



5.Give an example from the story how the author uses humour to keep up the interest of the readers.
The author uses humour to keep up the interest of the reader. There are many examples of how the author uses humor to keep the interest of the reader. For example :
-he says that he was too young to have learnt to say no to a woman. He also says that few men learn this till they are too old to make it of any consequence.
-he says that his nostrils were tickled by the smell of melted butter as the nostrils of Jehovah were tickled by the burned offering of virtuous Semites.
-The author says that his one miserable little chop was described by the lady as “filling the stomach with a lot of meat” – while all the expensive dishes she ordered was described as “just a snack”

IV.

1.The author was preoccupied with the likely problem of being unable to pay the bill.What steps does the take to ensure that the bill remains within his means?

The author takes many steps to ensure that the bill remains within this means.First, he ordered only the cheapest mutton chop for himself. He told his guest that his doctor had asked him not to drink champagne – thereby he saved some money by drinking only water. He even tried willing the waiter to say that there was no asparagus in stock but was not successful.

2.Before placing the order for the asparagus, what did the waiter say about their
availability?
The waiter said that they had they had some asparagus that were so large, so splendid and so tender that it was a marvel.

3.What does he plan if he (author) is short of money.
The lady had insisted that the author offer her lunch in Fayot’s. Fayot was a restaurant which the author could not afford. Before going to Fayots the author had thought that that in order to take the lady to Fayot’s he would have to cut out coffee for two weeks. However, at the restaurant the lady ordered the most expensive items on the bill-of-fare. She ordered Salmon, Caviare, Champagne,Asparagus, Peaches and Coffee with Ice cream. Since the lady order so many items , the author felt that he may not have enough money to pay for all the items ordered. He planned that if he fell short of money he would put his hands in his pocket and with a dramatic cry say that his pockets had been picked and borrow money from his guest. However, if his guest too did not have enough money he planned to leave his watch and come back later to pay the amount due.

4.How does the author indicate that the asparagus were very appetizing?
The author indicated that the asparagus were very appetizing by describing the asparagus as enormous , succulent and appetizing. He said the smell of melted butter tickled his nostrils as the nostrils of Jehovah were tickled by the burned offerings of the virtuous Semites.

5.While the asparagus was being eaten, what was the topic of conversation between
the author and the woman.
While the asparagus was being eaten the topic of conversation between them was the condition of the Balkans.

6.State briefly how the woman is presented as a socialite as well as a snob.
The woman is presented as a socialite by pointed out how she wrote to the author that she liked his book very much and that she wanted to meet him. The fact that she wanted lunch only at Fayot’s showed that the was a socialite and wanted to be seen only in an expensive restaurant. During lunch she talked about art, literature and music indicating the socialite nature of her character. The fact that she chose only the most expensive items on the menu indicated that she was a snob who was not sensitive to the host. They way she spoke rudely about the authors choice to eat mutton chop and constantly saying that she had only one thing for lunch but ordering several expensive dishes, also indicates that she was a snob.

V.

1.In what mood was the author when he asked the lady ‘’ are you still hungry?”
When the lady said that one should finish get up from the meal when feels that one can eat a little more – the author thought that the lady was indicating that she was still hungry. By this time the lady had eaten a lot of food. When the author asked her whether she was still hungry, he was in a very sarcastic mood and meant that how could she be hungry when she had eaten so much.

2.Show from the story that the lady was dishonest in speech and action.
The lady was dishonest in speech and action. We can say this because from before the luncheon started she said that she had only one thing for lunch. However, as the lunch progressed, she kept ordering the most expensive items on the menu – all the while saying that she had only one thing for lunch. She did not offer the author any of the dishes that she ordered for herself. She lectured to the author that he ate too much for lunch and that one must finish lunch when one feels that one can eat a little more – while at the same time she kept on ordering the most expensive items on the menu for herself.

3.Describe clearly the “terrible thing” that happened.
The “terrible thing” that happened was that when they were about to finish lunch
waiter came with a large basket of huge peaches. The lady took one peach from
the basket.This only added to the authors woes since he was not very sure if he
had enough money to pay for the lunch. Peaches were very expensive and this
added to the authors misery.

3.How did the payment of the bill make the author poor. What was his thought when he left the restaurant?
The payment of the bill made the author poor because the had barely enough money to pay the bill and the tip. After he paid the three franc tip he did not have any money left with him for the balance of the month.

4.Why did the author say later, “ I’ll eat nothing tonight?” How did the lady
respond to the authors statement.
The author said that he would eat nothing that night because he had spent all the money that he had for the luncheon. He did not have any money for dinner that night. The lady responded to this saying that the author was a humorist and that by saying that he would not have anything that night – he was reacting to the lady’s suggestion that he should have only one thing for luncheon.

5.How did the author have his revenge at last on what the lady had done to him?
The author had his revenge on the lady when he met the lady at a play twenty years later. During the luncheon the lady had kept saying how she had only one thing for lunch and how one must stop eating before one is full. However, twenty years later she weighed twenty one stone. Thus indicating that she had not even followed her own advice of eating moderately This gave the author his revenge.


VI.

1.Do on your own.
2.Do on your own.
3.Do on your own.

4.Briefly state the theme of the story.
The theme of the story is about the interaction of the author with his fan, who is a socialite and also a snob. The theme of the story is about who a woman can exploit a man on account of his inability to say no to a woman. It is about the insensitive nature of the lady woman who invites herself lunch to be paid by the author. The theme is also about how people say one thing and mean another. In this case the lady said that she had only one thing for lunch but ordered many items from the menu. The theme is also about how a lie is always found out – even if many years later. In this case after twenty years when the lady met the author she weighed twenty one stone thus showing that she did not even follow her own advice of eating moderately.

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