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The Dinner by Herman Koch Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Dinner


Plot Summary Part 2

Paul is very upset that the owner of the broken window is angry at Michel, and Paul threatens to beat the crap out of him "I'd stay where I am if I were you. The only thing that's been damaged so far is a window."


Now, why are we getting this flashback? We are being shown that Paul has a violent temper. We know that Michel has a cruel side to him because he beat up the homeless lady. Now we know where he got it from, Paul, his nutty dad.


Paul sets a bad example when Michel asks him if he would have hit the broken window man and Paul says, "The man is just a piece of trash... It doesn't matter whether I would have hit him over the head with that pump." Paul is teaching Michel that it is ok to be violent.

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Paul learns that Faso, Serge's adopted black son, has a copy of the beat-the-homeless-lady video, and Faso put part of it on the internet, and is threatening to expose Michel and Rick unless they give him 3000 Euros so he can buy a scooter.


We flashback to another time when Paul is a school teacher and tells his kids that some victims of war are better off dead. He gets called to the principal's office and has to restrain the urge to beat up the principal.


"I imagined planting my fist right in the middle of that gray face of his. Just below the nose, the knuckles against the blank area between nostrils and upper lip. Teeth would break, blood would spurt from the nose...."


This flashback shows us that Paul is a very dangerous and violent man. The principal orders him suspended and tells him to go to a psychiatrist and get his brain removed. So here is another example of how Paul is a violent person.


Paul takes some mind control pills to make him less violent. When he talks to Claire about impregnating her, Claire refuses. She doesn't want another Frankenstein baby with his bad genes.


Paul has a flashback to a time when Claire was in the hospital and he had to take care of Michel. The house was such a mess that Babette suggested that she and Serge take Michel from him, as if he were incapable of taking care of Michel. Paul got enraged. He smacked Serge in the face with a hot pan while Michel watches. I supposed we are shown this flashback to show another example of Paul getting angry, and how Michel learns to beat the crap out of people by watching his father.


Paul realizes that Claire has known all along that Michel helped kill the homeless lady. Claire has zero sympathy for the homeless lady. She says that smelly homeless people shouldn't block normal people from using an ATM, that they act like they own the sidewalk when people need to use the sidewalk to get to places.

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