This text is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

They laughed. Vicki watched them closely, ready to be included in their amusement, to roll her shoulders in scepticism as they did, but they pretended not to see her and turned back to their contemplation of the street outside. In a minute one of them would come over and tell Vicki to stop handling the clothes.

Vicki knew what her retort would be: ‘Don’t be silly.’ She would turn her mouth down, and her eyes would become cold, glittering slits. And if a waiter said anything to her about going straight through to the toilet without being a customer of the cafe, she would put her hand on her hip and say, ‘First I piss, then I eat – do you mind?’ And then she would order something really cheap, like one donut or a packet of CCs. In this frame of mind, savage with homesickness and loneliness, she roamed the city, daring it to tackle her. It paid her no attention.

Does in the sentence in bold it refer to in this frame of mind? I mean the way of her thought and the whole sentence in bold mean: she wanted by strengthening this type of her thought to deal with her difficult situation but her thought was not helpful?

1 Answer 1


The pronoun "it" in "daring it to tackle her" refers to "the city". Vicky has made up her mind intimidated or discouraged by the people she meets in the city; that is what "frame of mind" refers to.

The phrase "daring it to tackle her" means "challenging it [the city] to face her / deal with here". Tackle here means "to face or deal with, attempting to overcome or fight down".

The people she encounters are just "the city" because they remain anonymous. They also ignore her; hence "It paid her no attention."

  • Lots of thanks, so as you say that "it" refer to "the city" and "the city" means: people in the city. what is the meaning of "dare"? Can we say: She wanted to fight them to deal with her difficulties? Or she wanted to somehow persuaded them to help her to deal with her difficult situation? Feb 15, 2021 at 21:44
  • Vicki does not want anyone to fight her literally; she collects all her courage and feels strong enough to deal with the city.
    – Tsundoku
    Feb 15, 2021 at 21:53
  • I searched on the net and came across with this: If you dare someone to do something, you challenge them to prove that they are not frightened of doing it. Can we say in the phrase " daring it to tackle it" means: she wanted with all her courage to persuade the city to deal with her. am I right? Is this sentence the same as yours: she collects all her courage and feels strong enough to deal with the city? Feb 16, 2021 at 8:07
  • Normally, when you challenge someone, you say something like "I challenge you ..." or "I bet you can't ...". Vicki does not say such words but it is if she spoke them in her mind.
    – Tsundoku
    Feb 16, 2021 at 9:19

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