I'm reading Andrew's Brain by E. L. Doctorow. In this paragraph I have some difficulties:

... but your moodiness, she said, I don’t know, that’s so unusual, a powerful thing, almost like your way of life. And it’s such a personal way to be up in front of a class. It almost seems like a strength, like someone who has an affliction and is brave about it. When it’s just, I don’t know, a worldview that’s very solemn.

And I said: Briony, I think if we carry this as far as I’d like to, I will end up depressing you into marrying me.

Oh, how she laughed! And I with her. At that moment we were no longer teacher and student. She must have realized this because she grew quiet, not looking at me. She made a ceremonious thing of unscrewing her water bottle and holding it to her lips. I detected the faintest flush on her throat.

I don't get the bolded phrase. Does he mean that "If we go on like this, I'll make you that much sad that you'll marry me?" or something like this?

1 Answer 1


It's a joke of sorts - that's why Briony laughs in response. No one is literally going to marry someone purely because they're depressed - the bolded statement is thus a non sequitur, a statement that does not follow.

The reason the narrator makes the statement is because Briony is making a rather strange attempt to somehow oversell his penchant for moodiness, which can be a synonym for or symptom of depression. She says

It almost seems like a strength, like someone who has an affliction and is brave about it.

So she's taking something that most people would view as problematic - his moodiness - and making it sound like something good.

In response, he uses the statement about being "depressing you into marrying me" to point out how ridiculous this sounds. It's possible someone could take offence at this but Briony sees how she's over-embroidered her statement and gets the joke.

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