I would like to know what "the gigantic gates and lines of soldiers that protected the castle that was the Soviet embassy" means in the following sentences:

We whizzed off, speeding seamlessly and effortlessly along Ujazdowskie Avenue. We passed the run-down palaces of the long-forgotten aristocracy, the Łazienki Gardens with my hidden deer, and the gigantic gates and lines of soldiers that protected the castle that was the Soviet embassy. After that the city turned sparse. We passed endless stretches of identical blocks, blokowisko upon blokowisko with mud fields in-between, where riotous hordes of children played. We passed factories, smoking behemoths, big and solemn like sooty churches. The radio was on, playing something by the Velvet Underground. Nico sang in her low, litanic voice, bells ringing and a guitar jittering, like a flickering mirage.

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 decided to spend some days at the country house of Hania's family with his lover Janusz, Hania's brother Maksio, and Maksio's girlfriend Agata. So they (the five of them) drove towards the country house in the car.

In this part, I wonder it would be right to understand that what protected the castle that had once been the Soviet embassy were the gigantic gates and the lines of soldiers, or that only the lines of soldiers protected the castle.

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
    I am confused by the phrase "my hidden deer". Does the narrator actually own the deer in the park? Is deer singular or plural? And why are they/ it hidden?
    – Pete
    Dec 20, 2020 at 10:30
  • 2
    Please consider asking question like this one on English Language Learners rather than here. If your question is about what a character is thinking, or what the character's words might mean for the sake of the story, that does belong here. But a question like this one, which involves simply How do I parse this sentence?, is really an ELL question, not a Lit SE one.
    – verbose
    Dec 20, 2020 at 10:34
  • My prior comment is to the OP, not to Pete.
    – verbose
    Dec 20, 2020 at 10:34
  • When In struggling with something relating to a real location, I find it can be helpful see if I can find it on Street View. This seems the likely location goo.gl/maps/7FHhAeVfRp3ViDB27
    – Spagirl
    Dec 20, 2020 at 11:33
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    @PastaAddict Your questions are on-topic here - please don't get scared away from this site completely :-) Community discussion revealed that even relatively basic meaning questions are OK for this site. But, if you can distinguish between the queries that are purely linguistic (e.g. just the meaning of a word or phrase) and those that are more contextual (e.g. dependent on understanding the setting or characters of the story), then the relevant experts would be found on ELL for the first type and Lit for the second type.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 20, 2020 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


Since both the gates and the lines of soldiers are security measures, they both protect the Soviet embassy. The syntax of the sentence shows that too. If it were only the soldiers that protected the embassy, "the gigantic gates" would not fit into the sentence. The gigantic gates of what? The sentence would need to be rewritten as follows:

We passed the run-down palaces of the long-forgotten aristocracy, the Łazienki Gardens with my hidden deer, the gigantic gates of the castle that was the Soviet embassy, and the lines of soldiers that protected it.

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