In "The Luncheon" by S. Maugham, how does the author in subtle ways try to dissuade the lady from ordering more delicacies?

In "The Luncheon," the author subtly tries to dissuade his lady companion from ordering more delicacies by ordering either the cheapest option or nothing at all for himself.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this humorous story, a poor, young male writer living in Paris is taken advantage of by a forty-year-old female "fan" of his. She asks him to take her out to lunch at an expensive restaurant. He can barely afford to live but says yes. He is reassured when she tells him she barely eats lunch and will only want to order one thing.

However, as she orders more than one thing, all the items being very expensive, such as salmon and caviar, the speaker begins to panic. He tries to dissuade her from ordering more by having only one thing himself, the mutton chop that is the cheapest item on the menu. He drinks water rather than the champagne she orders. He refuses the expensive asparagus and out-of-season peach she eats, even though both are tempting to him. He also forgoes the ice cream.

The speaker's attempt to set an example fails, for his guest orders freely. The humor in the story comes from the slippage between the woman saying she doesn't eat lunch and the enormous lunch she actually...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 920 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on