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

Elizabeth used the presence of Vicki at her place as an excuse for sleeping nearly every night at Philip’s. He did not mind: he was not the kind of person who could be bothered minding. But he stayed out later, fell into strange beds in houses where a boiling saucepan might as easily contain a syringe as an egg; he excited pointless passions in girls who knew no better than to sprawl for hours among empty pizza boxes at the studio and wait for somebody to notice them. He came home at that hour when light is not yet anything more than the exaggerated whiteness of a shirt flung against a bookcase, a higher gloss on the back of a kitchen chair. Poppy left her writings on the table and he read them eagerly: her happy flights of fancy, her visions of an adult world, her lists of invented names: the endless ingenuity of the only child. ‘Finn and Angela have arrived on Dasnin,’ he read in the light of the open refrigerator, ‘to find an abandoned and desertous planet completely devoid of any living form.’ If he came home late enough he found her sitting up to her solitary breakfast. She had cleared the table and placed before her a cup of tea and a plate of toast and bacon. She had already been out for a jog around the park. She was clean and bright. She read as she ate; some great work or other, Norah of Billabong, The Once and Future King. She did not leap up and swamp him with greetings: she raised her face to him with her composed, modest smile. All about her was the order which she had created. God, the joy of her, the pleasure! He put down his guitar case. Will anyone ever love her as much as he does?

Does "God, the joy of her, the pleasure!" mean: "her father is thinking about what things makes his daughter happy"?

Am I right in understanding this part:

If he came home late enough he found her sitting up to her solitary breakfast. She had cleared the table and placed before her a cup of tea and a plate of toast and bacon. She had already been out for a jog around the park.

Does it mean:

If he came home late enough he found her sitting up to her solitary breakfast. She had cleared the table and placed before her a cup of tea and a plate of toast and bacon. Sometimes she was not home and she had already been out for a jog around the park and he did not saw her.

And do the sentences "Poppy left her writings on the table" and "She did not leap up and swamp him with greetings" mean "Poppy always left her writings on the table" and "She never did leap up and swamp him with greetings"?

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  • As a non-native some details is unclear to me, I want to know if the writer is saying the whole part generally or not, for exampel when it is said that: "Poppy left her writings on the table" Poppy always left her writing on the table or just one night she put them on the table? I think here the writer is telling this things generally and from the point of view of philip. Am I right? I did not expect negative point. – Viser Hashemi May 5 at 19:53
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  1. God, the joy of her, the pleasure! is what Philip thinks when he looks at Poppy. It represents his interior monologue, i.e., what is going on in his mind. He loves his daughter and is proud of her. The passage mentions various reasons why he likes her so much: she is creative, writing out stories of her own; she is self-reliant, able to make her own breakfast without needing adults like Elizabeth or Philip himself to look after her; and she keeps herself healthy by jogging in the mornings. For these reasons, and probably simply because he is her father, Philip finds his daughter a very appealing personality. So seeing her brings him joy and pleasure.
  2. No. It means Poppy was eating her breakfast after having returned from a run around the park.
  3. The simple past tense can be used for habitual actions just as the simple present can. If I say I leave for work at 7:30 a.m., I mean that I typically leave at 7:30 a.m. There may be occasional days when I leave earlier or later than that, but as a matter of routine, I leave at 7:30 a.m. Put that in the past tense, and it becomes I left for work at 7:30 a.m. Ordinarily one would expect some sort of adverbial of time there, such as When I worked at the factory, I left for work at 7:30 a.m., but such a qualifier is not required and can be derived from context. Here, the simple past means that Poppy frequently or typically or habitually left her writings at the table and did not leap up to swamp Philip with greetings. It doesn't mean she always left the writings on the table or never greeted Philip enthusiastically; it specifies what her actions were in the ordinary course of things.
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  • Lots of thanks, and does "her visions of an adult world" mean "her thoughts about adult persons' world?" Am I right? – Viser Hashemi May 6 at 17:02
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    @ViserHashemi not only her thoughts but also a world of adults that she creates in her imagination, as she is writing fiction – verbose May 6 at 18:10

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