The Luncheon
Setting - Paris – Restaurant (Currency: Francs)
Main characters
Plot - Story within a story. First 3 paragraphs and last
paragraph constitutes the one story - the main one –
Contains his message to the reader
Climax - the bill
The revenge in the final paragraph
- Narrator (a poor writer)
- The woman – 40-year-old fan
- appearance vs. reality
- Manipulation
- Revenge
• First person narrator (“I”)
• Poor
• Gullible/ easily manipulated - couldn't say no to a
woman - unable to be honest with her - made do
with what he had - could not afford caviar, but he
allowed her to order it.
• His character develops throughout this story feelings change from flattery and excitement to
disgust and anger to revenge.
Initially, the protagonist feels flattered and
excited that he has been asked by an older
woman to take her out to lunch in one of the
fanciest and most expensive restaurants in
Paris. Although his financial situation worries
him, he wants to please his acquaintance.
However, when she begins to order many
expensive items, he first worries about how he
will pay the bill. Then, he feels humiliated for
being used (manipulated) to satisfy her
expensive food tastes only.
Next, her insensitive discourse angers him: "I
see that you're in the habit of eating a heavy
luncheon. [the protagonist ate only a mutton
chop]. I'm sure it's a mistake. Why don't you
follow my example and just eat one thing? I'm
sure you'd feel ever so much better for it."
However, he replies sarcastically, "I am only
going to eat one thing."
Finally, the only solution for him is to not care
about her and to be as mean to her as she was
to him, whenever possible. His final statement
shows that he has had his revenge at last...
“Today she weighs twenty one stone.”
He is a down-to-earth, sincere and honest man
even during his angry moments. At the end
when the acquaintance says, "Never eat more
than one thing for luncheon" he emotionally
releases himself by retorting, "I'll eat nothing
for dinner tonight!"
His second release though less stormy,
happens when he complacently says, "Today
she weighs twenty one stone." These
statements confirm he is no longer flattered by
• Pg 178 - Woman's name not mentioned - probably a
fan/ someone he though he would admire or fall in
love with ("by correspondence" - she wasn't as
young as he expected - 40) - he had asked her out
for lunch - hadn't see each other for many years talkative
• Manipulating and insincere - she gets what she
wants while the protagonist must pay the price
• Bold, self-centered
• Demanding/ inconsiderate/ extravagant - she
"beckoned" him at the play - wanted to meet him at
HER time - at an expensive restaurant, far above
his means
The speaker, in 'Luncheon', wishes from the beginning that
his date would be a beautiful woman. He imagines a
portrayal of a graceful lady in his mind. But, when he goes to
have a lunch with her, she appears as a surprising blast, a
total opposite to his imagination. Not only her appearance
but also her dialogues express that she is an extremely fat,
food-loving and ravenous woman who does not even think a
bit about the costs the speaker would have to pay for the
lunch. She has a very good appetite, and gobbles a lot of
money also. The most interesting part is the verbal irony
hidden in the lines she utters to the speaker, like she does not
eat too much etc. The irony concealed in her speeches helps
to develop the main theme. These ironies make 'Luncheon' a
comic story in the true sense.
"Did I remember?" (Pg. 78) - Sarcastic - wasn't a
pleasant experience - one that he'll never forget.
Irony - pg 179 - Says one thing, but does another - She
wanted to meet with him to chat to him - but we are
not told what they chat about. "I never eat anything for
luncheon", "I never eat more than one thing." "I never
drink anything for luncheon."
Dorit Sasson
Why had the writer never thought of eating at
Foyot’s restaurant?
He was poor - restaurant too expensive
Explain why he decided to meet the woman at
this restaurant.
She wanted to meet him there - She wanted to
chat with him - he was flattered that she wanted
to have lunch with him.
Why didn’t he mind her talking so much?
She spoke about him.
Name everything that the woman ate and drank
at the restaurant.
Salmon, caviare, champagne, giant asparagus,
ice-cream and coffee, peach
Explain why her statement: “I don’t believe in
overloading my stomach” turned out to be
(Pg 179) She couldn't stop eating - ended up
What was the writer panicking about during the
Whether he would be able to pay the bill
“I knew that she thought me mean.
Why did she think this?
(Pg 181) He only left 3 francs for the waiter.
Do you agree that he was mean? Give a
reason for your answer.
No, it's her fault that he barely had a tip for the
waiter OR
Yes, if he re assertive he wouldn't have been in
this predicament in the first place - the waiter
deserves more for all the work done.
“I’ll eat nothing for dinner tonight.” Does he
really mean this? Explain.
Yes, he has no money for food. OR
No, he's being sarcastic - this is what the woman
had been saying all along.
“Today she weighs twenty-one stone.” How
much is this in kilograms?
133,35 kg
Explain why the writer felt he had got his
revenge in the end.
She is obese - she deserves it because of the way
she treated him that day at the luncheon,
knowing full well that he couldn't afford an
expensive restaurant, but still went ahead
manipulating him.
Explore Language and Literary Devices
Suggest reasons why the writer does not name
the woman in the story.
He's not making a point about a particular
woman, but is refering to people in general who
manipulate others, but who will eventually
receive their just reward
What do you understand by the expressions used
in the following sentences:
(a) “I was earning barely enough money to keep
body and soul together.”
He was very poor.
(b) “My mouth had often watered at the sight of
He loved asparagus and longed to eat it.
Explain the irony in the guest’s statement: “…I
never eat more than one thing for luncheon.”
She says she never eats more than one thing, but
she orders lots of different dishes.
“They had the blush of an innocent girl …”
Explain why this is an example of a metaphor.
(Pg 181) He's comparing the pinkish colour of
the peaches to the colour of a young girl's
In the opening paragraph of the story, the writer
says: “…I hardly think I would have recognised
her.” Quote the line at the end of the story that
explains why he nearly didn’t recognise her.
“Today she weighs twenty-one stone.”