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The Luncheon

By | December 2010
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IRONY IN THE LUNCHEON, THE ESCAPE
Two short stories by William Somerset Maugham, The escape and The luncheon, both describes grieving experience of men towards women. The narrator of the former recites how his friend, Roger Charing, tries to get rid of a woman, Ruth Barlow. The author of the later reflects his own experience with a woman using her well-laid traps to make him fulfill her luxurious demands. Since these events are anything but pleasant and memorable, the author expresses his severe criticism towards women.

The story begins with a funny anecdote, stating that "If a woman once made up her mind to marry a man, nothing but instant flight could save him." Faulkner describes marriage as "the inevitable loom menacingly before" men or "danger" that urges men to perform an "immediate action". This suggests his negative attitudes towards marriage and, more importantly, expresses the difference of men and women in love. Men are not marrying creatures while women usually expect to lead a love affair to marriage. Ruth Barlow is characterized by a "gift": "a gift for pathos". Her sympathetic appearance, "splendid dark eyes and they were the most moving I ever saw, they seemed to be ever on the point of filling with tears", conspires with a pitiful background, "twice a widow", to render Ruth the vulnerability, which strips men off their usual sensibility.

Though appearing as naïve and harmless, Ruth is led to gradually reveal her true character. Despite the absolute sympathy Roger has towards her, the narrator perceive her as stupid, scheming and unemotional. Her cheating on the card game and overlooking to pay the money she lost expose her dishonesty and affected manners. Ruth is a dull and narrow-minded woman, as "she had never had any conversation." Faulkner's repetitive description about her eyes: "splendid dark eyes", "the most moving eyes", "big ad lovely eyes" makes an impression that other than the pathetic look, this woman is a hollow.

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