Chapter 2: Nice to Eat with You

how to read literature like a professor


  • Maggie Goldin
  • Ch.2 Nice to Eat With You: Acts of Communion

Explanation of Concepts

  • whenever people eat, it is an act of communion (communion-sharing of intimate thought and feelings)
  • meals in literature have a deeper purpose then to simply eat the meal; helps to show character's relationships and character develpment

Concept #1-Meals are sacred

  • meals are sacred, they have guidelines; only eat with people you like and are comfortable with
  • you're saying "I'm with you, I like you, and we form a community together."
  • people hold themselves and others up to certain standards

-"Vincent often stopped [by the coffeehouse] before swim practice to grab a scone or Danish. We'd sit at the counter and share the quiet, as if we were the only two people in the world" (Selfors 4).

  • they know each other pretty well, which makes them more comfortable around each other
  • no verbal communication, but a mutual understanding of fondness for each other

Concept #2-Meals do not have to be sacred

  • people do not always follow the rules, the guidelines
  • (example: someone who makes you upset or annoyed would be someone you don't want to eat with)
  • driven by desire, selfish motives
  • (example: a worker buys his boss a nice meal to get on his good side and eventually get promoted)
  • sometimes people are driven by selfless motives

-"Vincent had warned me not to go out there, but I could just slip the food out, real quickly. I wouldn't have to go near the guy...As quietly as possible, I cracked open the door. [I set the food and coffee on the stoop for him.] Then i closed and locked the door, my heart beating wildly" (Selfors 6).

  • she was not comfortable; why would she share this experience with this strange guy?
  • compassion, pity for others who are not as fortunate as her

Concepts #3-Meals are a common-ground for people

  • No matter the person (a jock or an outcast) they have food in common
  • food bonds people, in a good or bad way
  • we might or might not like that common-ground, nevertheless it is there

-"As kids we hate [coffee]...But somewhere along the way we learn to accept the bitter taste, even crave it...[this happens when] we realize that...nothing exceptional will ever come our way...We should just forget about...pineapple punch and limeade...and settle for a mug of brown liquid" (Selfors 36).

  • the bitter taste of coffee (the bitter disappointments of life) is how people relate; this is an experience that everyone goes through
  • it is represented through a commonplace cup of joe

Concept #4-Meals bring people together

  • whether it be for a happy occasion, sorrowful event, or just a random get-together, food brings people together
  • the appeal of food as a way to get to know someone or just hang with someone is what has made places like Starbucks and Sweet Frog so popular

-"Kids hung out at Java Heaven because it offered the trendy stuff like smoothies, energy drinks, and iced espressos. Senior citizens hung out at Anna's because it offered the stuff senior citizens prefer, like percolated gut-eating coffee, nondairy creamer, and sugar that comes in cubes" (Selfors 12).

  • by sharing the same food interests, you could possibly share other interests as someone else eating at your favorite restaurant
  • you can start relationships through food

Overview of Chapter

  • Meals in literature mean more than just that a character is hungry; they show a characters' relationships and also a characters's development over a story
  • A good communion will end well for a character, but if a meal goes bad in a story and the characters leave the meal angry or upset , then the communion would be labeled a failure
  • The point of communions is to show how the characters interact with each other and to learn if the characters have a future positive or negative relationship ahead of them

Learning Activity

  • Explain activity
  • Read and answer handout
  • talk about it

Works Cited

  • Foster, Thomas. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York: Harper Collins Publisher Inc., 2003. Print.
  • Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants. North Carolina: Algonguin Books Of Chapel Hill, 2006. Print.
  • Selfors, Suzanne. Coffeehouse Angel. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2009. Print.