I've come accross the expressions 'putter, putter!' and 'chop, chop' in the novel 'The Arrangement' by Elia Kazan. I need interpretation. Here is the paragraph:

He'd continue his joking, fixing me with that eye, a god in malevolence as well as in power, his eyebrows hard as scimitars, and he'd demand, "How much money did you make today?" Now what kind of goddam question was that to ask a kid just starting high school? He'd glare at me so it was impossible for me to answer, my lips were so dry. But he'd drink his oozou, nibble pieces of that crusty goat cheese, and wait. "Putter, putter," he'd say, referring I suppose to the evidence of my nerves.


But my father had one more blast for me. He'd serve himself and my mother, he'd serve my younger brother, Michael, and then me. As he gave me my plate, he'd look at me with such disappointment, such profound disillusionment-oh God, it hurt! Then he'd say, "Don't worry, my boy, I expect nothing from you, Shakespeare! Putter, putter! Chop, chop! I expect nothing. I need nothing."

1 Answer 1


Given the context that the father "expect[s] nothing from [the narrator]", putter is describing the actions of the son puttering around.

Putter Around: to spend time in a relaxed way doing small jobs and other things that are not very important

Whereas putter (not the golf club) alone has quite a negative connotation as well...

Putter: to move or act aimlessly or idly

In the second passage the father is essentially mocking his son by adding chop, chop.

Chop-Chop: without delay, quickly (Chinese Pidgin English, reduplication of chop, fast)

The father is saying "do nothing, quickly"...

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