I would like to know what "which welcomed the touch of unknown fingers and summer air" means in the following sentences:

‘Come on,’ he said, taking the flask from me and letting his hand travel along my thigh, ‘let’s go. We’ll be better somewhere more quiet.’ He stood without waiting for my reaction, and I followed him. I followed him into complete darkness, towards a hole in the bushes so black it felt like I was blind. My steps were uncertain. At some point he stopped, me bumping into him, the two of us suddenly facing each other. The darkness was a comfort: it was as if we’d melted into the night and nothing that would happen would be fully real. He began to stroke my neck, his fingers rough and calloused, and his sharp breath on my face. My heart was threatening to break out of my chest. With a hurried but practised hand he loosened the belt of my trousers and pulled out my cock, which welcomed the touch of unknown fingers and summer air. He knelt down, disappearing from my vision, and enveloped me in the warm cave of his mouth. It was the best feeling. It felt like I was gliding down a tunnel, or that it was riding through me. My head thrown back, I saw the stars in the sky. Then I heard his fly unzipping and sensed him masturbating, rapid, urgent movements that excited me. And as we rode like this, him panting and me gasping, the urgency and abjection rose within me like heat, like an irrepressible scream, mounting, pushing, taking over, until the lights went off and I closed my eyes and exploded in his mouth, warmth and wetness meeting in one great terrible relief.

In this novel which is set in the 1980's in Poland under the socialist regime, where homosexuality was socially unacceptable, the protagonist Ludwik (a university graduate) left Poland in 1981 to live in the United States of America. And he remembers what it was like back then in Poland, where he, who was a teenager unable to suppress his desire towards men, once went to the Staromiejski Park in Wroclaw, which was famous for the place where "inverts" went. There he met an old man, and engaged with him in a sexual intercourse.

In this part, I wonder how his cock "welcomed" the touch of unknown fingers and summer air. And I also wonder whether it would be alright to see that his cock welcomed "the touch of unknown fingers" and "summer air", or "the touch of unknown fingers" and "the touch of summer air."

I am an English learner from South Korea, so thank you for your patience in advance as I may not know obvious things. I would very much appreciate your help. :)

1 Answer 1


Ludwik's cock welcomes "the touch of unknown fingers" and "the touch of summer air". His cock feels another person's fingers on it for the first time, so those are unknown fingers, as it has not known this sensation before. The fact that the old man is a stranger is another sense in which the fingers are unknown—they belong to someone who is unknown to him. Since that touch is pleasurable, it is welcome; as the Merriam-Webster definition (adjective, meaning 2) says:

giving pleasure : received with gladness or delight especially in response to a need

Hence Ludwik's cock welcomes the man's fingers.

The summer air also feels pleasant on his cock, and so that is welcomed as well. Syntactically, we know that it's specifically the touch of the summer air because that's how parallelism works. Parallel structure requires that the parallel elements have the same grammatical construction. The touch of unknown fingers and summer air are not grammatically parallel constructions; unknown fingers and summer air, both being adjective + noun, are. So the sentence structure makes it clear that Ludwik's cock is welcoming "the touch of unknown fingers" and "the touch of summer air".

if it was just the summer air itself and not its touch specifically that his cock welcomed, the sentence would be:

welcomed the touch of unknown fingers and the summer air.

The addition of a definite article before "summer air" would make "the summer air" parallel to "the touch of unknown fingers" in the sense that they're both definite article + noun phrase. But since there's no definite article before "summer air", the grammatical unit is not

welcomed ... the summer air


welcomed the touch of ... summer air.

Even if there were a definite article before "summer air", the parallelism wouldn't be quite as neat as the sentence as written is, though.

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