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Class 4 :: English Literature :: The Two Questions - A traditional story in dramatic form (Cambridge Connection English)

  The Two Questions - A traditional story in dramatic form (Cambridge Connection English)

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The Luncheon

 by William Somerset Maugham


Quick Answers

1. Complete the following sentences.

a. The narrator went over to meet the lady because she had beckoned him to do so.

b. Even though Foyot's was well beyond his means, the narrator went ahead with the lady's plan because he was flattered and too young to have learned to say no to people.

c. The narrator's 'heart sank' a little because he could not afford caviar for the lady.

d. The narrator was 'past caring' because he had shortage of money and he would be embarrassed if he had to borrow money from his guest.

e. The narrator thinks that his guest thought him mean because he had given only three francs as a tip to the waiter.

Reference to context

2. "Well, it's many years since we first met. How time does fly! We're none of us getting any younger. Do you remember the first time I saw you? You asked me to luncheon."

a. Who is speaking and to whom?

= The lady at the play, who beckoned the narrator to come over her, is speaking this to the narrator.

b. What does the expression 'how time does fly' mean?

= The expression 'how time does fly' means that it has been long since they met first time.

c. How long ago had they first met?

= They had first met many years ago.

3. "I tried with all my might to will him to say no. A happy smile spread over his broad, priest-like face, and he assured me that they had some so large, so splendid, so tender, that it was a marvel."

a. What is the item described here? Who is describing it?

= The item described here is asparagus.

The waiter is describing it.

b. Why did the narrator will him to say no?

= The narrator would him to say no because they were horribly expensive. He has limited money with him. He did not want the lady to eat asparagus and the bill increase.

c. Why does the narrator refuse to have any splendid food item?

= The narrator had only eighty fracks to last the rest of the month. He estimated that a modest luncheon would not cost more than fifteen francs.   But his guest, the lady was adding more items gradually. That is why the narrator refused to have any splendid food item like asparagus as they were expensive enough to reduce his expenditure.

4. " 'Humorist!' she cried gaily, jumping into a cab. 'You're quite a humorist!' "

a. Who said this to whom?

= The lady said this to the narrator.

b. Why does the speaker say this?

= At the time of her departure, the lady suggested the narrator not to eat more than one thing for luncheon. In answer to that, the narrator replied that he would eat nothing for dinner that night. This made the speaker to say so.

c. What does this line tell you about the profession of the person being spoken to?

= This line tells us that the person being spoken to is a writer. He has a good sense of humour. Actually the lady ate more than one item in the luncheon. She eat caviar, salmon, champagne, asparagus, ice cream, coffee and a peach. In spite of this, she suggested the narrator not to eat more than one thing for luncheon. In response to this, the narrator very wittily said that he would nothing that night for dinner. This inevitably shows that the narrator is a writer.

Read, reflect and write

5. How much should a modest lunch have cost according to the narrator? Did he have enough money for one when he invited the lady for a luncheon?

= According to the narrator, a modest lunch should have cost not  more than fifteen francs.

He had eighty francs with him when he invited the lady for a luncheon. He had to last the rest of the month with that money left with him after the luncheon. He planned to cut out coffee for the next two weeks so that he could manage well enough.

6. What was the narrator's impression of the lady when he met her for the luncheon?

=  She was not so young as the narrator had expected and in appearance imposing rather than attractive. She was in fact a woman of forty. The narrator thought it was a charming age. The lady gave the narrator the impression of having more teeth, white and large and even, than were necessary for any practical purpose. She was talkative, but she seemed inclined to talk about the narrator. 

7. Why did the narrator feel complacent when he met the lady many years later?

=  The narrator felt complacent when he met the lady many years later because she was an admirer of his writing. It was twenty years ago and the narrator was living in Paris. He had a tiny apartment in the Latin Quarter overlooking a cemetery and he was earning barely enough money to keep body and soul together. The lady read a book of the narrator and had written to him about it. The narrator was overwhelmed by the praise. He answered thanking her.

8. 'I never eat anything for luncheon.' Discuss the irony of this statement.

= This line reveals the fake modesty of the lady. She was at the luncheon with the narrator. She repeatedly said that she never eats anything for luncheon. But she expressed her desire to eat many items one after another. She eat caviar, salmon, champagne, asparagus, ice cream, coffee and a peach. In spite of this, she kept on saying such contradictory thing. 

9. Extended writing : Give evidence from the chapter to show whether or not the narrator enjoys the luncheon.

= The narrator both enjoyed and suffered emotionally to some extent at the luncheon. At first he was excited to meet the lady as she was the admirer of his writing. In spite of his hesitation, he agreed to give her a little luncheon at Foyot's, an expensive restaurant. He had eighty francs with him. He expected to spend maximum of fifteen francs. He hoped to manage the rest of the month with the rest of the money. But gradually his excitement turned into emotional traction. He was becoming conscious about his money as far as the lady kept on ordering food items. He was stopping himself eating the items the lady was ordering, only to save money. He had left with only three francs to give the tip to the waiter. He had left with no penny when he walked out of the restaurant to manage the rest of the month.

About the Author :

William Somerset Maugham (pronounced mawm) (1874-1965) though trained to be a doctor, lived in Paris for ten years as a struggling young author. He abandoned medicine after the success of his early novels and plays. His semi-autobiographical novel Of Humanity Bondage (1915) is his best known work. In 1917, Maugham worked as a spy for the British government.

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