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

‘I got my hand jammed between two speaker boxes,’ said Philip. ‘My finger burst like a sausage.

‘You know?’ said Vicki. ‘One of those horror movies where she drives up to this house and gets dismembered?’

‘I got to Reno on the bus at eight o’clock in the morning,’ said Philip. ‘People were stumbling about the streets in full evening dress.’

‘She had all the colour and dynamism of a parsnip,’ said Elizabeth. ‘You could not by any stretch of the imagination drum up feelings of sisterhood for her.’

‘We’ve got a rabbit in a cage,’ said Arthur.

‘I walked in to our first gig,’ said Philip, ‘and they were sticking red cellophane over the lights. I thought, Oh no.’

‘I went through centuries of torture,’ said Elizabeth. ‘I’d emerge exhausted from the Crusades and the Black Death only to realise that I still had to drag myself through the entire Spanish Inquisition. I never touched it again.’

Does "My finger burst like a sausage" mean "My finger became rounder and bigger than normal and like fried sausage after became bigger it was cut"?

And does "I still had to drag myself through the entire Spanish Inquisition. I never touched it again" mean "I still had to drag myself through the movies that was about Spanish Inquisition. And I gave such works up for ever"?

Or is "Spanish Inquisition" used figuratively and the sentence means: I still had to respond a lot of questions?

  • I don't want to put it as an answer, since I haven't read this book, but a) sausages when cooked too long first swell and then finally split splashing the boiling "juices" around. Same can happen if your finger swells too much from trauma; b) sounds literally in this case
    – Yasskier
    May 23, 2021 at 20:11
  • Thank you, do you have any idea about my second question, is "Spanish Inquisition" here used figuratively? or is it about movies that are about Spanish Inquisition? I did not found a movie with this title. May 23, 2021 at 20:33
  • 2
    Without reading this book I can't really say, but my wild guess is that it sounds as taken literarily, as Elizabeth had to read (watch? live?) about the terrible times of Crusades, Black Death and then she realized that this is not the end of the horrible times as there is still the Spanish Inquisition ahead. There are quite a few movies about the Spanish inquisition but of course there is also the famous Monty Python sketch about Spanish Inquisiton
    – Yasskier
    May 23, 2021 at 20:51
  • Sausage is a favourite idiom amongst british/australian people. Something very familiar and common all readers could relate to.
    – Kinglish
    May 23, 2021 at 22:29
  • @Yasskier thank you very much for your comment, by reading the book I got that Elizabeth is a actress or someone who used to work on TV or her work was about making movie. and from this sentence I guess she was playing in such movies or did some works for making this movies. but "Spanish Inquisition" made me confused because I did not find any movies titled by this name and I guess It is a movie about Spanish inquisition. May 24, 2021 at 6:31

1 Answer 1


Sausages explode open when overcooked. Their finger was torn open and mangled.

Sausages are composed of ground meat stored inside a tube-shaped casing; historically this was animal intestine, but modern-day sausages are often cooked inside artificially-produced casings, instead. When a sausage gets overcooked, often the meat within will expand until the casing ruptures, and the insides of the sausage spill forth. A fairly straight-forward way to see this happen is to take some hot dogs (precooked sausages) and drop them in boiling water until their casings burst.

By saying that their finger "burst like a split sausage", they're saying that their finger was mangled and crushed, with lots of gory chunks of meat exposed.

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