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Lunch

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The two short stories titled The Luncheon by Jeffrey Archer and William Somerset Maugham are somewhat similar yet uniquely different.  Both authors use interesting phraseological exchanges and vocabulary which draws the reader in and entertains along the lines of the stories.

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In the story by Jeffrey Archer, the main character, a writer, meets one of his admirers at a cocktail party.  The setting is very easygoing and the story takes place in London.  It begins in a humorous way because the writer cannot remember the woman who has greeted him in the friendliest manner.  As he asks general questions in order to remember her name, she asks him if he has forgotten her.  At this moment, the story changes because the character remembers her name, and it brings back a moment in time which took place at a restaurant.  

The flashback begins when the narrator mentions his state of low financial affairs as a beginning writer.  At the same time, he notes that his fans and their calls were not very enjoyable (Archer 2).  From the very beginning, the author does a great job presenting this short story in the most humorous way.  The life of a new writer is explained in detail and very realisically.  When he receives a call from a wife of a famous producer and is asked to lunch, he puts on his best suit and a new shirt which he has “been saving for a special occasion since Christmas…” (Archer 2). 

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The narrator bluntly describes his bank statement and his minimal amount of resources.  He withdraws almost everything, leaving a few cents behind, hoping it will be enough for a simple lunch.  At the arrival to the place of lunch, the writer realizes that the restaurant is the most expensive.  The whole lunch creates a conflict where the narrator battles with his fear of not having enough to pay for the food ordered by his guest.  He tries to stay polite while secretly being angry and anxious.  When the bill is finally brought, the writer is relieved that he has just enough.  The conflict is resolved, but the new writer is left unsatisfied and moneyless.

The Luncheon by William Somerset Maugham is also written rather eloquently but is much shorter.  It starts out in a theater where the writer meets a lady he has taken to lunch 20 years ago.  Right away, the writer has a flashback, remembering the afternoon he was asked to lunch in one of the expensive places.  The author of the short story also mentions that the finances of a starting writer were low, and he had to calculate his spending until the end of the month (Maugham, par. 2).

William Maugham uses humor to describe the setting and the situation of the writer in the restaurant because his guest keeps saying that she always has nothing for lunch except… and then, orders something of high taste, such as salmon and caviar (Maugham, par. 8).  Unlike the short story by Archer, Maugham creates strong negative emotions in the reader towards the writer’s guest.

The short story is also made humorous when the numerous items ordered by the guest are compared to the single order of chops made by the starving writer.  This fact is brought out by the guest’s saying that it is she who only eats “one thing” to stay fit while her writer friend had ordered meat, stuffed himself with food and should be more careful in his selection of meals (Maugham, p. 18).

Overall, both stories are humorous and interesting, only Archer leaves the reader dissatisfied while Maugham ends with a reward for the writer, as currently the woman from his lunch “weighs one hundred and thirty-three kilograms” (Maugham, par. 25). 

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