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What does this sentence mean in chapter 01 of Peel My Love Like an Onion by Ana Castillo?

But you must be really in love for the cliché to bounce back like a boomerang smack dab between the eyes with the ring of the gospel truth to your born-again ears.

  • 1
    what's the cliché? It's hard to answer this question out of the context of the original passage. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum May 7 '18 at 10:09
  • @LaurenIpsum guessing the boomerang metaphor is the cliche, but agree it's difficult without more context. – DukeZhou May 8 '18 at 18:41
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The New York Times provides an excerpt that includes the sentence in question. The context is the experience of falling in love:

I was in love once. When you are in love no single metaphor is enough. No metaphor appears just a tad cliched. You are dizzy with desire. Yes, dizzy, virtual vertigo. Someone catch me, I'm falling in love. Nothing too serious, no ambulance will be necessary. Just a few days of bed rest is needed, I'm sure. With him.

This experience of being in love is full of metaphors that have become so commonly used they've become clichés - falling in love being the most obvious - and yet the person in love doesn't see these metaphors as in any way tired or overused, because the experience itself is so powerful that metaphors aren't sufficient to describe it:

Love that is riddled with cliches but has never happened to either of you quite that way before, therefore it cannot be a cliche for you.

Thus, the sentence in question is saying that when you are truly smitten by love, what previously seemed like a tired cliché takes on an entirely unexpected freshness, depth of meaning and almost physical force. You hear the cliché with "born-again ears" and it strikes you as "gospel truth" (one could add further religious metaphors about "revelation" and "epiphany").

The expression "bounce back like a boomerang" is a bit clumsy - boomerangs arc through the air, they don't bounce - but is intended to convey that the cliché about love that you had previously thrown away as jaded or meaningless has come back to you with renewed meaning and power. The cliché hits you "smack dab between the eyes" - "smack dab" meaning "exactly", but with the extra dimension of collision or force - and suggests that this new awareness of the power of clichés to express the immensity of "being in love" is far from a gentle awakening. On the contrary, it comes as a shock.

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    Welcome to Literature! Great first answer - I really like the detailed and reasonable explanation starting from the context of the quote. – Rand al'Thor Aug 1 '18 at 8:23

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