The Lunch Date


Davidson, Adam




This Oscar-winning short film from 1989 tells the story of a wealthy white woman whose goal is to catch a train. The story is simple and done with very little dialogue. As the woman hurries toward her train, misses her train, and deals with the aftermath, viewers discover much about her character, including her relationship with the many homeless people in the station and with an African-American man who bumps into her and causes her purse to fall to the ground. “The Lunch Date” offers an opportunity to discuss fear of difference, race, social class and status, and the power of unexamined privilege.

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Diversity and DifferenceGiving and ReceivingJustice and EqualityKnowledge and UncertaintyLove and CompassionMoney and WealthPoverty and NeedPower and PrivilegeRace, Ethnicity and CultureServing and Volunteering

Big Questions

What assumptions do we make about others?Why is difference sometimes threatening?How much should I give? What, if anything, might limit my giving?What are the causes of injustice and inequality?What do we know for sure? What do we not know?What prevents us from being compassionate?What is the relationship between money and power?How do we recognize need?How do we know or identify privilege?What assumptions do we make about people from different races, ethnicities and cultures?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What is your first impression of the woman as she walks through the train station?
  2. How do you think the woman would describe the other people at the train station?
  3. How would you describe the woman's interaction with the African-American man who bumps into her and causes her pursue to fall to the ground? What is her reaction?
  4. What do you make of the moment when the woman goes to buy the salad, is told it will cost $3, and she says “I'm not sure I have that much”?
  5. Why does the woman start eating the salad that the homeless man is eating in the booth?
  6. Does the woman's interaction with the homeless man ever change? If so, when and why?
  7. What does the woman think has happened to her bags when she comes back to the booth? Why does she think this?
  8. How do you think the woman feels upon making the second train?
  9. Who do you identify with in the film and why?
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