Dinner Party

DINNER PARTY   (E.V. LUCAS)

DINNER PARTY   (E.V. LUCAS)

 

SUMMARY of the story:-

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The dinner party was going on. The narrator introduces Grandmamma and Mr. Dabney to each other. While Mr. Dabney is a Radical editor, Grandmamma is a connoisseur of literature. For this she always says that she likes literary company. Many years ago she met Mr. Dickens and Mr. Thackeray and they both still have a great impact on her. She believes that even at the present time there are no books which can equal the works of Dickens and Thackeray. Personally, she prefers the works of Dickens as his father used to read them aloud. He was a beautiful reader and while thinking about him, Grandmamma moans that there is no reading aloud today. According to her, the reason being the insufficient home life at the present time.

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Mr. Dabney, being a Radical editor, loathes comparing the present and the past. However, he too speaks to consent that home life nowadays is almost lost. He even refers to the present London and consolidates the view of Grandmamma. He says that there are umpteen attractions to induce people to leave their homes in the evening. This however, breaks the family circle. Suddenly Lionel glanced at the narrator and asked the price of Alf Pinto. Dabney now realizes that he has been interrupting the boastful Grandmamma. Hence, he again moved back to his safe role of a silent listener and let Grandmamma carry on with her boastful talk.

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Grandmamma again resumes her reminiscing that Dickens spoke to her. It was in the sixties when she was at Manchester with her husband. It was a business trip, and Mr. Dickens was having breakfast. It was at this time that Grandmamma and her husband met Mr. Dickens. The toast which was served at the breakfast table was not good and Mr. Dickens veritably compared it to sawdust. This however amused Grandmamma. Grandmamma was again amused at Dickens’ comment while paying a tip to the waiter. It was witty. She often had heard her husband use the particular word. It was slang for describing a douceur. However, she cannot remember it now. Grandmamma even sought help from Naomi and Alderly but it did not serve her purpose. This is because both they both failed to remember the humorous words of Dickens.

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Next Grandmamma started her reminiscence on Thackeray. She had a brief meeting with him at London some years back. It was at a conversazione at the Royal Society’s where she had been with her husband. The old Grandmamma was overwhelmed by Mr. Thackeray’s generosity. She could never forget that a great writer like him could sacrifice the cab for them. He had said that there would be another cab for him directly. Actually both Thackeray and Grandmamma thought the standing cab to be theirs. But despite enough pleading by her husband to take the cab, Mr. Thackeray, sacrificed it because he pitied Grandmamma amidst rain.

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However, Mr. Dabney is exhausted tolerating the boring Grandmamma for a long time. He tries his best to seek relief from her but to no avail. Next Grandmamma started talking about a novel dealing little about marital relationship. Dabney, being drawn into the discussion, remarks that the trouble that takes place with marriage is that while every woman is a mother at heart, every man is a bachelor at heart. But the view of Dabney irked Grandmamma. She however, dismisses this new attitude towards marriage since she cannot find any trouble in it. She even refers to her marriage life to prove her point. She in fact is so biased about her own opinion that she even discontinued library subscription after her marriage. She did so to avoid those books dealing with unhappy conjugal life.

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Grandmamma now enquires Dabney if he too was dealing with such indecent theme. But she is hurt when she learns that Dabney is not a writer but an editor. She denies hearing the name of ‘The Balance’, where Dabney works as an editor. She even goes as far as to condemn the contemporary journals and does not admit they are fit for reading. She however is fond of literary society and feels proud about it. But she is grieved that there is so less literary society in Ludlow.

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Mr. Dabney however was sweating hearing the Grandmamma. She was too old to be contradicted. She resumes again her story of breakfasting with Dickens. Finally Naomi comes to rescue Dabney from loquacious Grandmamma. She draws Grandmamma’s attention to a dish of strawberries. Next Grandmamma quoted that God could have made a berry better than strawberry but doubtlessly he never did so. It was a favourite quotation of her father. She again asks Dabney if he knew whose quote it was originally and he replied it was Bishop Buttler. Dabney knew the name very well as he for many years he had been cutting it out of articles every June. At last Dabney was saved and Grandmamma for rest of the meal started talking about fruits.

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Now when everything was quiet, it was Lionel, who was a county cricketer suddenly asks Grandmamma if she had not once met Thackeray. But before the old Lady could begin with her story, Naomi signals her mother to lead the way to the drawing room.

THE CHARACTER SKETCH OF GRANDMAMMA

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Grandmamma is the central figure of the story who speaks all throughout. She is loquacious and snobbish. She is also a propagandist of her fondness for the literary society. She initially mistakes Mr. Dabney as a writer. Hence she feels complacent speaking to him and therefore irks the latter in a major way.

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It is at the dinner party that both Grandmamma and Mr. Dabney meet. Grandmamma begins saying that she is always fond of literary society. Years ago she met both Mr. Dickens and Mr. Thackeray and they still have a great impact on her. She believes that even in the present time there are no books like theirs. Personally, however she prefers Dickens. This is because her father used to read the works of Dickens aloud. His father was a beautiful reader. While thinking about her father, Grandmamma moans that there is no reading aloud today because there is very little family life nowadays. This shows the loquacious nature of Grandmamma. She loves to remain within the periphery of her self-styled universe.

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Next, Grandmamma resumes reminiscing Mr. Dickens, speaking to her, while she was at Manchester with her husband in the sixties. It was a business trip. Mr. Dickens was having breakfast when they met him. Since the toast they served was not good he veritably compared it to sawdust. This amused Grandmamma. Dickens even said something to the waiter while paying the tip but Grandmamma cannot remember it now. She only remembers that it was very witty and even her husband often used the slang to describe a douceur.

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After finishing with Dickens she begins with Thackeray episode, which also fascinates her. She met him at London some years back. It was at a conversazione at the Royal Society’s where she had been with her husband. Mr. Thackeray’s generosity overwhelms the old Grandmamma. She can never forget that a great writer like him could sacrifice a cab for them saying that he would get another one soon. Actually both he and Grandmamma thought the cab standing to be theirs. Despite enough pleading by her husband to take the cab, Thackeray sacrificed it. He did so because he pleaded Grandmamma amidst rain. Such humanity actually pleased Grandmamma.

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The old lady’s bossiness again reflects in her discussing a novel that deals little about marital relationship. Dabney being drawn into the discussion remarks that the trouble with marriage is that every woman is a mother at heart, while every man is a bachelor at heart. But Dabney displeases Grandmamma with his opinion on marriage. Therefore she dismisses this new theory on marriage since she finds no trouble in it. She is so biased about her own opinion that she discontinued library subscription after her marriage. She did so to avoid reading those books dealing with unhappy conjugal life. Hence we are again confirmed of the orthodox nature of Grandmamma, who is merciless in her conversation with Dabney.

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Grandmamma now enquires if Dabney is dealing with such indecent theme. Now when she knows that he is not a writer but an editor, she is hurt. She denies hearing the name of ‘The Balance’ where Dabney works as an editor. She even goes as far as to condemn the contemporary journals as inappropriate for general reading. But she again expresses her pride for her fondness in literary society and expresses her sorrow at the scarcity of such society in Ludlow.

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Hence Grandmamma is a typical old fashioned lady. She is loquacious, snobbish and loves to be the centre of attraction. She has a notion that the contemporary literature is all rot as compared to the Victorian Literature. She considers Dickens and Thackeray to be the best. Hence she repeats again and again her stories of her meetings with Dickens and Thackeray. She explains all these to Dabney whom she mistakes as a writer. Moreover, her rudeness in dealing with Dabney confirms her to be an orthodox lady, who enjoys living in her self-styled universe.

 

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