Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions regarding the meaning of certain terms or phrases used in a work of literature. If your question concerns the symbolic significance of something whose surface meaning is clear, use the [symbolism] tag instead. Please add specific tags as well: for the author (if known), the language (if not English), and either the work itself (if long) or the [poetry] or [short-stories] tags for short works.

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Meaning of “What is in here?”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner What is this, thought Vicki. What is in here? It is a warehouse, it has no walls or rooms. There is a row of windows, each one shaped like an ...
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What is meant when light is described as 'metallic'? [migrated]

I have seen this used quite a few times in novels. Two examples are: Molasses buckets appeared from nowhere, and the CEILING DANCED WITH METALLIC LIGHT. -To Kill a Mockingbird Aureliano...sitting ...
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What's the meaning of “catching or missing something” in this sentence from “A Stoic” by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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In Effi Briest, what is the meaning and significance of a “wide field”?

I noticed a similar phrase recurring twice in the conversation between Effi's parents in Chapter V of Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I'm reading online: Miss Hulda had clinked her glass too ...
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Meaning of the dialog in bold and “sour street light”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Up there under the leafless vine they were talking. Vicki saw their breath. From the angles of their bodies she could tell they were arguing. ...
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What does “perverse madonna” mean?

What is a "perverse madonna"? In the short story "The Boarding House" by James Joyce, Polly is compared to a "perverse madonna". Polly was a slim girl of nineteen; she ...
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334 views

Meaning of “Now things can only get better” and “starry cold” in the passage below

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Dexter emptied his bowl for the last time, then lifted it in both hands and licked it out, pushing his face right into it. There was soup on ...
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Explanation of a pargraph from “Five Children and It”

I can't understand this paragraph from Five Children and It. What does it mean? Please explain. The shadows got longer and longer, and at last there were no separate shadows any more, but one soft ...
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“You have to take pains so the goods won't go off” from The Witcher

I am reading The Witcher - The Tower of Swallow in English and I would like to know what the following phrase means: He ordered the people who had gathered to bring him a sack of salt and a keg of ...
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What does “a star” symbolize here?

Each morning gives thee wings to flee from hell, Each night a star to guide thy feet to heaven. This verse has been taken from the poem "Opportunity" by Walter Malone. What does "a ...
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How was the free-born Englishman prevented from taking his ease in his inn in 1922?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, Blick, a detective who had booked rooms at "Sceptre Inn", which belonged to Grimsdale, was cheerful after reaching an important conclusion....
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What is the meaning of “the drumstick” in this novel by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the 20th century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across this peculiar use of the word “drumstick”: ...
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What is the meaning of the sentence “You are--aren't you?” in this novel by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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1answer
39 views

What is the meaning of “your first interest” in this novel by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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1answer
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What is the meaning of “the least bit” in these affirmative clauses by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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1answer
33 views

Meaning of “Low down on the sky was a narrow band of apricot, all that was left of the daylight.”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner The hostess at the open door showed her teeth. Vicki came out into the world. She saw the man beside Elizabeth and slowed down. That couldn’t ...
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Can “access and excess” be antonyms in this context?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, Blick, a detective-sergeant, was thinking about the way by which someone had entered and left Markenmore district. Firstly he studied the railways ...
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What is the figure of speech used in this part of “Cataract Operation”?

What is the figure of speech used in these lines taken from the Simon Armitage poem "Cataract Operation"? the olé of a crimson towel. the cancan of a ra ra skirt, the monkey business of a ...
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Meaning of “he’d go down between sets and find her”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner They stopped at the gate lounge. The door opened. ‘Here she comes,’ said Elizabeth. ‘Which one is she?’ said Dexter. The man walking behind ...
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What does “Might be a good deal in that” mean in “The Markenmore Mystery”?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, the chief constable was talking to two lawyers about a stranger man who had gone to "Sceptre Inn" and booked a room there, but he never ...
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What does “His business here that night might have been just as much with those two men as with his brother and sister” mean here?

In "The Markenmore Mystery" (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, the chief constable was talking to two lawyers about Guy Markenmore who had been murdered two days ago after his meeting with two men at ...
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Meaning of “the kind of woman who’d throw round terms like the orthodox feminist position. ”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Doctor Fox looked at Elizabeth as he chewed, and nodded and smiled. She must be nearly forty now, like Dex. Thank God they were never foolish ...
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Meaning of “dawning way” and the use of “altogether” in the context below

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Philip did not turn up with the car. This did not surprise Elizabeth. She took the bus to the airport. Vicki’s plane was late. Elizabeth ...
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429 views

What does “hawk” mean in the context below?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Over the back fence, nearer the creek, lived an old couple whom Dexter and Athena had never seen but whom they referred to as Mister and ...
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Meaning of “Like half the rest of the world, if more than half there be that are clever and good, Marianne … was neither reasonable nor candid.”

This passage is from Chapter 31 of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, where Elinor contemplates the deficiency of sense and sensibility in Marianne, made evident by Elinor had not needed this to be ...
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Meaning of “he used it to knit meaning into the mess of everything”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by by Helen Garner Had Dexter and Elizabeth thought of each other during this time? Of course they had, Dexter more than Elizabeth, not because of any ...
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What do “Háni" and “Sons éso tse-ná” mean in Brave New World?

What do “Háni" and “Sons éso tse-ná” mean in Brave New World? I know they sound unreal, but I was curious if there is an actual meaning behind these two phrases.
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In what way can a utility coat be a mockery in a Ted Hughes' “Crow” poem?

In Ted Hughes' Examination at the Womb-door (of the Crow collection), Crow's organs are listed with certain kinds of descriptions (bold is mine): Examination at the Womb-door Who owns these scrawny ...
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What is a “three-part moon”?

This is from Book 2, Chapter 23 of Salamandastron. Samkin, Arula, and Spriggat are sneaking at night into a vermin camp, planning to steal back the sword of Martin the Warrior. Under a burgeoning ...
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Meaning of “to conduct the ordinary business of their lives”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner How strange it is that in a city the size of Melbourne it is possible for two people who have lived almost as sister and brother for five ...
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What does “the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and definitiveness of syllogisms carved in porphyry” mean?

This is a paragraph in Huxley's novel Ape and Essence, talking about a painting by Piero Della Francesca: For all their silken softness, the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and ...
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Is “I'm glad you think it's funny” meant sarcastically or literally?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner. At night, when they had put the children to bed, Athena and Dexter walked. They were ruthless about going, and would barely even check that ...
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Where does Tomyris promise to retreat?

I'm trying to understand this passage in Herodotus's Histories (Book 1 chapter 208): So these opinions contended; and Cyrus set aside his former plan and chose that of Croesus; wherefore he bade ...
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What are nuts and super-nuts in Saki's “Beasts and Super-Beasts”?

In Saki's Beasts and Super-Beasts (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/269/269-h/269-h.htm) he refers to "Nuts" and "Super-Nuts". For example, we have “You are not going to be what ...
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620 views

What might “And God, for a Frontier.” mean in “I am afraid to own a Body—”?

I don't understand the second stanza of I am afraid to own a Body— by Emily Dickinson. Double Estate—entailed at pleasure Upon an unsuspecting Heir— Duke in a moment of Deathlessness And God, for a ...
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What does “skimmish” mean, in this eye dialect?

This is perhaps a surprising instalment in my sequence of Watership Down questions, being about human dialect and nothing to do with rabbits at all. Of course, it comes from the chapter "Dea ex ...
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Meaning of “Dexter walked with a bandy, rapid gait. They kept pace easily, not touching.”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Dexter walked with a bandy, rapid gait. They kept pace easily, not touching. They covered miles each night in the dark, sometimes heading east ...
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What does the “justness of characters” mean?

What does the “justness of characters” mean? In the dedication of his play The Way of the World William Congreve says the following about the ancient Roman playwright Terence: "The purity of his ...
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What does “But… They went home” mean in Maya Angelou's “They Went Home”?

Maya Angelou's "They Went Home" opens like this: They went home and told their wives, that never once in all their lives, had they known a girl like me, But... They went home. The end of ...
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Meaning of “the boy who is turned towards the drama of his parents’ faces.”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Dexter found, in a magazine, a photograph of the poet Tennyson, his wife and their two sons walking in the garden of their house on the Isle ...
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Meaning of “The blushing apricot, and woolly peach. Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach.”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner On his way through the kitchen he screwed up the pizza boxes and tried to force them into the stuffed bin, but they would not go so he left ...
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Meaning of “this patient setting out of facts and services.”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner When the film ended a Greek man explained in his native tongue the details of the government’s health scheme. It took him fully ten minutes, ...
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Meaning of “put in all the salt and pepper”

From Chapter 48 of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations: “Mr. Jaggers was for her [Molly, Mr. Jaggers's maidservant],” pursued Wemmick, with a look full of meaning, “and worked the case in a way ...
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800 views

Meaning of “as it was, she witnessed minor twinges of the appropriate emotions occurring distantly, as if to some other girl”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner: Some things, Morty,’ he said, ‘strain a person’s sense of humour.’ He swept through the room. The three of them sat foolishly, with fading ...
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129 views

Origin and significance of E-I-E-I-O in the Old MacDonald song

The well-known children's song "Old MacDonald had a Farm" has lyrics in the following format: Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O ! And on that farm he had {article} {singular or plural ...
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Meaning of three phrases from “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum”

The poem "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum" by Stephen Spender is given below Far far from gusty waves these children's faces. Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor: ...
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What does “mirror in my bathroom” mean?

In the following passage from Lonely Man Full of Love by Mauro Mevlud Martino, what does "mirror in my bathroom" mean? A: ‘’Are you quieter and lonelier than me, Rachel?’’ B: ‘’Perhaps, ...
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54 views

What kind of jeans are Sears Rough Riders?

I'm reading Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane. There's a scene when Kate (one of two main characters) saw Tully (the other main character) wearing fashionable elephant bells and wished her jeans weren't ...
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39 views

Meaning of “In the wide planting of his feet, his blithe assumption of an audience, she saw Dexter”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner: She turned round with her arms full of stinking sheets. He had not heard a word. His eyes had gone out of focus, his pitch was up, his pace ...
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“My father declared he should invent a slip button”

From Lady Saba Holland's memoir of her father the Rev. Sydney Smith, published circa 1855: The reigning bore at this time in Edinburgh was ——; his favourite subject, the North Pole. It mattered not ...

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