Michael Hollinger’s Naked Lunch
Naked Lunch is a short story written by Michael Hollinger. The story is set in the dinner scene of two characters, Lucy and Vernon. The emotional responses to the scenario lead to conflict in the relationship between the two characters.
About the Author :
Michael Hollinger is an American playwright born in 1962 in Pennsylvania. He is currently the associate professor of Villanova University. He has written three short films and co-authored the Philadelphia Diary. His notable awards include the Roger L. Stevens Award, three Barrymore Awards, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and the F. Otto Haas Award.
Naked Lunch – Summary
The play is centered on two characters – Lucy and Vernon. Vernon had invited his ex-girlfriend Lucy for a special meal. They have had break-up earlier and Vernon desires to kindle the old passion. He wants to make their relationship continue by getting intimate with her after the dinner, as they used to do in their previous relationship.
The dinner starts with Vernon having corn and steak on the plate for Lucy. But, Lucy has become a vegetarian and so refuses to eat the steak. When Lucy continuously refuses eating it, Vernon becomes more persuasive. He thinks that she is making excuses to him, as she does not want to eat what he gives. As a result, he becomes to explain the reasons to her to make her eat it. She, in turn, explains him about the health report and talks about diseases possibly caused by eating meat. As a result, Vernon persuades her, telling she is paranoid about her health issues and she has become a carnophobia.
The play ends with Vernon repeatedly pushing Lucy to eat the steak. He keeps tormenting her until she succumbs to her desires. And finally, she consumes it, unwillingly. He thinks that since she had eaten the steak now, he can have a chance of getting intimate with her. But, Lucy has been emotionally stripped down and has become naked to his reactions from inside. The story ends with the realization of Lucy that the meat is not the toxin in her life but the relationship with Vernon.
While Lucy is a dynamic character, Vernon is a controlling personality. The theme of the story includes relationship conflicts, aggression, verbal abuse, and manipulation.