The Dinner by Herman Koch Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Dinner

Plot Summary Part 1

Paul Lohman and his wife Claire, who have a son named Michel, have been invited to dinner. It takes like 30 pages to slowly reveal who they are having dinner with and what their relation is to Paul, but eventually we find out that it is Paul's politician brother, Serge, and his wife Babette (named for Babar the elephant?), who have invited them out.

Paul is whipped. He repeats over and over that Claire is smarter than him. He hangs onto every facial expression she makes to find out how he can obey her better. You get the impression that after he impregnated her with Michel, she cut off his nuts, because that's how he acts towards her.

Paul finds an incriminating video on his son's Michel's cell phone. In very bad cock-tease writing it takes about 100 pages to reveal what the video is about. In the meantime Paul simply takes Michel's cell phone with him to dinner.

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There are pages and pages and pages talking about food, how a bearded man urinates, popular movies, and so on. I will spare you. This mercy alone is worth the price of this study guide.

Paul notices that Babette, Serge's wife, has been crying. Serge explains that she is going through menopause and is having v_gina problems.

Michel, Paul's son, calls and says he wants his cell phone back. He's really anxious to get it and he's coming to the restaurant to get it.

Finally, on page 110 we find out what's on Michel's cell phone. It's a video of Michel and Serge's son Rick beating the crap out of a homeless woman camped around an ATM machine. They smack her around and laugh. You can tell Michel and Rick are having a good time. And then they throw an "empty" gas can at a homeless woman and then set it on fire, killing her. They seem to be performing for the video, with the intention of sharing it with others--e.g. (THEME TIME!) they are proud of what they have done, not ashamed.

Paul analyzes the video over and over. He finds one amazing fact--after they killed the homeless lady, they returned to review what they had done. Paul finds this so amazing that he repeats this discovery over and over. It is supposed to have some meaning, I suppose to show that Michel approved of what he had done to the homeless lady (even though Michel claimed he didn't know there was gas in the gas can).

Not a lot about this makes sense. Where did Michel get a gas can from? Are those things just lying around ATM machines? If they thought it was empty, why did they try to ignite it? It almost looks like they knew there was gas in it and Michel and Rick were trying to kill her, despite their claims that they thought it was empty.

We flashback to a time when Michel accidently kicked a ball and broke someone's window.

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