W. Somerset Maugham Questions and Answers

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Is there a message in the story the luncheon? or is it just an amusing recount

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While "The Luncheon" is certainly a light and amusing story the narrator tells of a past experience, a message can also be found in the story. The narrator shares that when he was twenty years younger, he received a note from a woman regarding his book, and the rest of the story follows his response to this. Clearly flattered, the young man agrees to have lunch with the woman because she has an interest in his writing. Signs of a prideful nature become apparent in the young man. Though he does not have much money, he is unwilling to decline her request.

When the decision is made to eat at a fancy restaurant, pride again stands in the way of the young man telling the woman he simply cannot afford that particular restaurant. He comes to the conclusion that if he sacrifices drinking coffee for the next two weeks, he can "manage well enough." The narrator at first finds comfort in the woman saying, "I never eat anything for luncheon." However, she orders salmon, caviar, and champagne. The young man's worries go from trying to make ends meet to covering the bill of the luncheon.

The lesson that can be found in the humorous short story is that flattery and pride hamper the young man's ability to be truthful with his guest. Instead of explaining his financial situation, he allows her to continue to order expensive items from the menu. The narrator expresses his pleasure in seeing the woman after twenty years and realizing she has gained a substantial amount of weight.

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