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

Had Dexter and Elizabeth thought of each other during this time? Of course they had, Dexter more than Elizabeth, not because of any imbalance of affection, but because Dexter was mad about the past. He believed in it, it sustained him, he used it to knit meaning into the mess of everything. He recited it in anecdotes told always in the same words. He even recalled in detail dreams that other people had had years before. Elizabeth disliked the past. It was full of embarrassment. She and Dexter had never been in love.

Is my understanding of the bolded parts correct?

  1. Does "not because of any imbalance of affection" mean "Dexter did not love Elizabeth more than Elizabeth loved him"?

  2. Does "He believed in it, it sustained him, he used it to knit meaning into the mess of everything" mean "He believed the effect of past in his life and it gave him power to live and with the help of past he resolved his problems that he encountered"?

  3. Does "He recited it in anecdotes told always in the same words. He even recalled in detail dreams that other people had had years before" mean "He made anecdotes from his past and he told them. He even recalled in detail wishes that other people had told him"?

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  1. Exactly. An "imbalance" would indicate a lack of proportion -- he loved her much more than she loved him.

  2. I would say -- in view of the "knit meaning" -- that he used the past to interpret his present, so that it did not seem pointless and meaningless. This may not solve problems but it would lend them significance.

  3. The anecdotes do not have to be made up, and from the context, I would assume they were accurate. Likewise, I think the dreams were, indeed, dreams; someone would describe a dream over breakfast, perhaps, and he would still remember the description years later.

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  • Lots of thanks, So about the question 3 can we say "he described his past in form of anecdotes and always he told them in the same words"? – Viser Hashemi Mar 26 at 6:46

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