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Skill Set: Inference

Skill Set: Inference

Learning Module: Module #3 Advanced Skills

Purposes: To combine prior knowledge with clues in reading to determine deeper meaning.  To practice making predictions and conclusion. To encourage active and engaged reading.

Reading selection: Open and read the attachment “The Luncheon” by Somerset Maugham at the bottom of this document.

Topic Overview:

Writers often do not tell readers everything.  They require readers to use the information they get from the text as clues to determine what is “missing” in the text.  When readers make guesses by combining what they read with what they know, they are making inferences.

For example, if you read the sentence, “The student looked over his notes one last time, pulled the scantron from his backpack, took a deep breath, and entered the classroom,” you might infer that he was about to take an exam.


Begin a new Word document and create an MLA heading and header.  Examples and step by step directions for creating an MLA heading, and a header can on the HELPFUL LINKS document in the RESOURCES section of this course.  Be sure to add a properly formatted title to your paper.
Look at the following cartoons, copy, and complete the graphic organizer regarding inferences.

Cartoon A                                                  Cartoon B


What you see in
the cartoon

What you can
infer from the cartoon


Pumpkin is sitting in a barber’s chair.

Pumpkin asks to be surprised.

Other character is a knife.

Knife has a towel in his hand.

Knife is smiling.


Although we use an online cart when we order from Amazon,
someone actually has to prepare the items for shipping by using a physical

When people change their minds, it causes more work for others.

The remaining questions are from “The Luncheon.”  Be sure to number each response.

Why does the woman want to meet the author for lunch?
What does the author think about the woman’s appearance and character at the beginning of the lunch?
How does his opinion about her change by the end of their lunch?
Although the woman claimed she only ate “one thing” for lunch, what did the story reveal about her when she began to order?  Include in your answer specific examples from the story.
During the course of the lunch date, do you think the woman senses that the author is uncomfortable? What specific information gives this inference?
 In the end, does the author get the last laugh?  When?  Explain.
Finally, create an MLA citation for the article assigned.   Be sure you create a Works Cited heading on a new page like you have before.  This reading selection is from a print version magazine, so the format will be different. Use the link in the additional resources section and see the example under “ARTICLE IN A MAGAZINE” heading.

Scoring rubric:

Scoring Criteria

Points earned/

Possible points

Assignment submitted on time (10 points)


Correct MLA heading, header, and title (5


Graphic Organizer copied and completed (10


Logical inferences made (20 points)


Evidence used to make inferences was
discussed (20 points)


Personal experience cited at least once in
answers (5 points)


Correct MLA citation (20 points)


Directions were followed completely (10


Notes from Instructor:

The highlighted criteria listed above are
eligible for a rescore.  Take the
original submission, make corrections, and resubmit before the Module
closes.  Only the highlighted criteria
are available for a rescore.


Additional Resources:

Creating a table in MS Word

MLA Works Cited Page: Periodicals

The Luncheon by Somerset Maugham

The Luncheon

Somerset Maugham
I caught sight of her at the play, and in answer to her beckoning, I went
over during the interval and sat down beside her. It was long since I had
last seen her, and if someone had not mentioned her name I hardly think I
would have recognized her.
She addressed me brightly.
“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.”
Did I remember?
It was twenty years ago and I was living in Paris. I had a tiny apartment in
the Latin quarter overlooking a cemetery, and I was earning barely enough
money to keep body and soul together. She had read a book of mine and had
written to me about it. I answered, thanking her, and presently I received
from her another letter saying that she was passing through Paris and would
like to have a chat with me; but her time was limited, and the only free
moment she had was on the following Thursday; she was spending the morning at
the Luxembourg and would I give her a little luncheon at Foyot’s afterwards?
Foyot’s is a restaurant at which the French senators eat, and it was so far
beyond my means that I had never even thought of going there. But I was
flattered, and I was too young to have learned to say no to a woman. (Few men,
I may add, learn this until they are too old to make it of any consequence to
a woman what they say.) I had eighty francs (gold francs) to last me the rest
of the month, and a modest luncheon should not cost more than fifteen. If I
cut out coffee for the next two weeks I could manage well enough.
I answered that I would meet my friend-by correspondence-at Foyot’s on
Thursday at half-past twelve. She was not so young as I expected and in
appearance imposing rather than attractive. She was, in fact, a woman of
forty (a charming age, but not one that excites a sudden and devastating
passion at first sight), and she gave me the impression of having more teeth,
white and large and even, than were necessary for any practical purpose. She
was talkative, but since she seemed inclined to talk about me I was prepared
to be an attentive listener.
I was startled when the bill of fare was brought, for the prices were a great
deal higher than I had anticipated. But she reassured me.

“I never eat anything for luncheon,” she said.
“Oh, don’t say that!” I answered generously.

“I never eat more than one thing. I think people
eat far too much nowadays. A little

fish, perhaps. I wonder if they have any salmon.”
Well, it was early in the year for salmon and it was not on the bill of fare,
but I asked the waiter if there was any. Yes, a beautiful salmon had just
come in, it was the first they had had. I ordered it for my guest. The waiter
asked her if she would have something while it was being cooked.
“No,” she answered, “I never eat more than one thing unless
you have a little caviare, I never mind caviare.”
My heart sank a little. I knew I could not afford caviare, but I could not
very well tell her that. I told the waiter by all means to bring caviare. For
myself I chose the cheapest dish on the menu and that was a mutton chop.
“I think you are unwise to eat meat,” she said. “I don’t know
how you can expect to work after eating heavy things like chops. I don’t
believe in overloading my stomach.”
Then came the question of drink.
“I never drink anything for luncheon,” she said.
“Neither do I,” I answered promptly.
“Except white wine,” she proceeded as though I had not spoken.
“These French white wines are so light. They’re wonderful for the
“What would you like?” I asked, hospitable still, but not exactly
She gave me a bright and amicable flash of her white teeth.
“My doctor won’t let me drink anything but champagne.”
I fancy I turned a trifle pale. I ordered half a bottle. I mentioned casually
that my doctor had absolutely forbidden me to drink champagne.
“What are you going to drink, then?”
She ate the caviare and she ate the salmon. She talked gaily of art and
literature and music. But I wondered what the bill would come to. When my
mutton chop arrived she took me quite seriously to task.
“I see that you’re in the habit of eating a heavy luncheon. I’m sure
it’s a mistake. Why don’t you follow my example and just eat one thing? I’m
sure you’d feel ever so much better for it.”
“I am only going to eat one thing.” I said, as the waiter came
again with the bill of

She waved him aside with an airy gesture.
“No. no. I never eat anything for luncheon. Just a bite, I never want
more than that,

and I eat that more as an excuse for conversation than
anything else. I couldn’t possibly eat anything more unless they had some of
those giant asparagus. I should

be sorry to leave Paris without having some of

My heart sank. I had seen them in the shops, and I knew that
they were horribly expensive. My mouth had often watered at the sight of
“Madame wants to know if you have any of those giant asparagus.” I
asked the waiter.
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.
“I’m not in the least hungry,” my guest sighed, “but if you
insist I don’t mind having some asparagus.”
I ordered them.
“Aren’t you going to have any?”
“No, I never eat asparagus.”
“I know there are people who don’t like them. The fact is, you ruin your
palate by all the meat you eat.”
We waited for the asparagus to be cooked. Panic seized me. It was not a
question now of how much money I should have left over for the rest of the
month, but whether I had enough to pay the bill. It would be mortifying to
find myself ten francs short and be obliged to borrow from my guest. I could
not bring myself to do that. I knew exactly how much I had, and if the bill
came to more I had made up my mind that I would put my hand in my pocket and
with a dramatic cry start up and say it had been picked. Of course, it would
be awkward if she had not money enough either to pay the bill. Then the only
thing would be to leave my watch and say I would come back and pay later.
The asparagus appeared. They were enormous, succulent, and appetizing. The
smell of the melted butter tickled my nostrils as the nostrils of Jehovah
were tickled by the burned offerings of the virtuous Semites. I watched the
abandoned woman thrust them down her throat in large voluptuous mouthfuls,
and in my polite way I discoursed on the condition of the drama in the
Balkans. At last she finished.
“Coffee?” I said.

“Yes, just an ice cream and coffee,” she answered.

I was past caring now. So I ordered coffee for myself and an ice
cream and coffee for her.
“You know, there’s one thing I thoroughly believe in,” she said, as
she ate the ice cream. “One should always get up from a meal feeling one
could eat a little more.”

“Are you still hungry?” I asked faintly.
“Oh, no, I’m not hungry; you see, I don’t eat luncheon. I have a cup of
coffee in the

morning and then dinner, but I never eat more than one thing for
luncheon. I was speaking for you.”
“Oh, I see!”
Then a terrible thing happened. While we were waiting for the coffee, the
head waiter, with an ingratiating smile on his false face, came up to us
bearing a large basket full of huge peaches. They had the blush of an
innocent girl; they had the rich tone of an Italian landscape. But surely
peaches were not in season then? Lord knew what they cost. I knew too what
they cost-a little later, for my guest, going on with her conversation,
absentmindedly took one.
“You see, you’ve filled your stomach with a lot of meat”-my one
miserable little chop- “and you can’t eat any more. But I’ve just had a
snack and I shall enjoy a peach.”
The bill came and when I paid it I found that I had only enough for a quite
inadequate tip. Her eyes rested for an instant on the three francs I left for
the waiter, and I knew that she thought me mean. But when I walked out of the
restaurant I had the whole month before me and not a penny in my pocket.
“Follow my example,” she said as we shook hand, “and never eat
more than one thing for luncheon.”
“I’ll do better than that,” I retorted. “I’ll eat nothing for
dinner to-night.”
“Humorist!” she cried gaily, jumping into a cab, “you’re quite
a humorist!”
But I have had my revenge at last. I do not believe that I am a vindictive
man, but when the immortal gods take a hand in the matter it is pardonable to
observe the result with complacency. Today she weighs twenty-one stone*.


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