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Questions tagged [meaning]

For questions regarding the meaning of certain terms of 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.

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39 views

What does “if it came to it”, “when put to it”, and “rough handling by grief” mean?

Nonetheless,ease and peace had left this people still curiously tough. They were, if it came to it, difficult to daunt or to kill; and they were, perhaps, so unwearyingly fond of good things not least ...
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What does “set out fair and square” mean in the text below?

they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradiction.
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23 views

What does “nothing that lived” and “doughty at bay” mean?

Though slow to quarrel, and for sport killing nothing that lived, they were doughty at bay, and at need could still handle arms.
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What does “they were in name his subjects” mean?

While there was still a king they were in name his subjects, but they were, in fact, ruled by their own chieftains and meddled not at all with events in the world outside. What does "they were in ...
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40 views

What does “reckoning of years” mean?

About this time legend among the Hobbits first becomes history with a reckoning of years. What does "reckoning of years" mean in this passage from The Lord of the Rings?
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561 views

Opening lines of Gwendolyn Brooks' poem “Riot”

Please explain the following opening lines of Gwendolyn Brooks's poem "Riot": John Cabot, out of Wilma, once a Wycliffe, all whitebluerose below his golden hair, wrapped richly in right linen ...
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121 views

In 'Roman Fever' by Edith Wharton, why would Grace be raided?

I am reading Edith Wharton’s 'Roman Fever'. I have a couple of question which are beyond my understanding, being not a native English speaker. "I'd rather live opposite a speakeasy for a change; at ...
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93 views

What is the meaning of “editorial novelist” and “literary dude”?

Could someone please answer the following questions? 1- What is an “editorial novelist”? 2- What does “dude” and “literary dude” mean in the following passages: All are mentioned in a New Yorker ...
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52 views

What does “cold died beyond knowledge” mean in Ted Hughes' “Owl's Song”?

In Ted Hughes' "Owl's Song" (in Crow collection), the last line of the first verse seems quite obscure: He sang how the swan blanched forever How the wolf threw away its telltale heart And ...
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1answer
101 views

Meaning of these dialect words and phrases from Artemus Ward, “On Forts”

I'm not a native English speaker and cannot get the full meaning of this part of Artemus Ward's work named "On Forts". I have highlighted difficult words: It is rarely seldum that I seek ...
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Some Whitmanic Lines

To the tally of my soul, Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night. Loud in the pines and cedars dim, Clear in the ...
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Meaning of “cloudless at dawn” and connection with Shakespeare's head?

I was reading one of the master-pieces by Stephen Spender, "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum". Following are the starting lines of the second of four octaves: Our sour cream walls, ...
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43 views

Who is Thomas o' Becket" in Tristram Shandy?

Who is Thomas o'Becket in chapter 2, vol.7 of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman? So without arguing the matter further with Thomas o’Becket, or any one else— St. Becket is of ...
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What does “hold” mean in this context from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had leisure for reflection, and at length it took so fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness What does "...
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What is the meaning of these phrases from “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”?

From Walt Whitman's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d" While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed, As to long panoramas of visions. Here what is the meaning of "be bound in"? Does ...
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meaning of 'dash about'

"That is a very dreadful story," said the Padre. "Very," said I, "and there are some rather odd points about it. Did commercial travellers dash about in motorcars when Popper was a youngster? And ...
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An undecipherable part of 'Goldfish' by Raymond Chandler

"Listen," Sunset complained. "I don't know you from last Sunday's sports section. You may be all to the silk. I just don't know." "Why'd you brace me?" I asked. "You had the word, didn't you?" ...
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357 views

The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm by Wallace Stevens quote interpretation

I'll give the whole poem for context, but I'm having trouble making complete sense of a line in the poem. What exactly does Stevens mean by the phrase "wanted much most to be / The scholar to whom ...
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1answer
59 views

What does H. G. Wells means by “Subject Races” in The War in the Air?

The term "Subject Races" is used a few times in H. G. Wells's novel The War in the Air. I have been looking around but only found a paper called "The Treatment of Subject Races", is this related?
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Conclusion of 'The Trial for Murder' by Charles Dickens

What does the last quote of the short story 'The Trial for Murder' mean? Why did the 'Murderer' says [...] Before I was taken, he somehow got to my bedside in the night, woke me, and put a rope ...
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How to understand these expressions in Kevin Barry's OX Mountain Death Song?

The following excerpts are taken from Kevin Barry's OX Mountain Death Song. There are some expressions that I can't find in any dictionary, and I really want to know what do they mean. Question 1: ...
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What does Walt Whitman mean by “going in for my chances”?

From "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman: What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first ...
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441 views

What does this passage of 1984 mean?

There were also memories of another kind. They stood out in his mind disconnectedly, like pictures with blackness all round them. He was in a cell which might have been either dark or light, ...
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The meaning of the line “and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah” in “Hallelujah”

"Hallelujah" contains a mix of Biblical themes. The first stanza mentions (King) David by name, and the first three lines of the second seem to refer to one of King David's stories (II Samuel 11). The ...
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What is the meaning of “decorator” and “got up in”?

The following text is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: I sighed and left the den. The way it worked, Ellie had the use of the sitting room down back of the ground floor; no teenager ...
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The meaning of the poem “Crucified” by Kahlil Gibran

I am a high school student, and my assignment was to find intertextuality of the crucifixion of Christ and write a reflection about it. I was surfing on the web, and found a poem called "Crucified" ...
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What does the phrase “the silent imputation of parsimony” mean in The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry?

What does the phrase "the silent imputation of parsimony" mean? It appears in the first paragraph of "The Gift of the Magi," which I've quoted below. One dollar and eighty-seven cents.That was all. ...
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How to understand “ eight million quids’ worth of dental work”

The following sentence is taken from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He was seventeen, six two, with blonde, floppy hair, and about eight million quids’ worth of dental work." How to understand the ...
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1answer
51 views

How to understand the title “Wifey Redux”

"Wifey Redux" is a short story by Kevin Barry and I am at a loss as to what the author meant by that title. Literally, it means Wifey Brought Back, but there is no indication in the story which ...
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332 views

What does the raven say to Ged when he first enters the school at Roke?

In the Wizard of Earthsea when Ged first enters the school at Roke, he meets with the Archmage Nemmerle, and a "raven of Osskil" wanders towards the Archmage (his familiar, maybe?) and when the ...
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What does the line “The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them.” mean in The Gifts Of The Magi?

What was not among whom? What did O. Henry want us to know from this line? The author says this line after Jim hugs Della out of affection after seeing the magnitude of her sacrifice (her hair, which ...
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1answer
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“inlooped flags” in Whitman's poem

What is the meaning of "inlooped flags" in a poem of Whitman (When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd)? He is describing the Lincoln funeral: Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, ...
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1answer
41 views

What is the Distracted Preacher never anxious to do in this long sentence?

In Hardy's The Distracted Preacher, the first page has this really long sentence: But when those of the inhabitants who styled themselves of his connection became acquainted with him, they were ...
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1answer
43 views

How to understand the meaning of “ Columbine types” and “sniper material”?

The following is an excerpt from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He wasn’t her usual type, so immediately I was worried. The usual type – so far as it had been established – was black-clad, pale-...
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19 views

“…the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!”

How do I understand explicitly the meaning of this last sentence from the fourth letter of Frankenstein? Why would the ship be "wrecked" when it was not? Also, how do I account for the usage of em ...
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1answer
70 views

What does “ongtray” mean?

In "The Bird with a Broken Wing," part of Agatha Christie's story collection, The Mysterious Mr Quin, Inspector Winkfield tells Mr Satterthwaite: Must find out what terms they were on. That’s ...
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1answer
67 views

How to understand “made a picture” and “dates can work out”?

The following sentence is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: And we made a picture – I was a gorgeous kid myself. A Matt Dillon-type, people used to say, which dates me. But your dates ...
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1answer
130 views

In “Howl”, what does “Blake-light tragedy” mean?

In the passage from Ginsberg's Howl: who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war How does the hyphen in Blake-...
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1answer
48 views

Who does “he” refer to in this passage from Les Miserables?

In the following passage from Les Miserables, with characters Mr. Thenardier and Jean Valjean, who does the bold "he" refer to? Be that as it may, on entering into conversation with the man, sure ...
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273 views

What is the meaning of the poem “Praxis” by Wendy Xu?

This poem caught my eye a few days ago. I was strangely unable to find a single analysis piece, however. What is the meaning of Praxis by Wendy Xu?
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Deeper meaning of Richard Siken's quote

Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying ...
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Explanation of the line 'But you don't really care for music, do you' in “Hallelujah”

In the first verse of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", there are these lines: Now, I've heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don't really care for music,...
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What does T. S. Eliot mean in the poem The Hollow Men when he ended it with “This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper”?

I once read a poem "The Hollow Men" by T. S. Eliot. The poet ended the verse like this: This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a ...
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What does “fail us” mean in the book “Pachinko”?

I just began reading the book "Pachinko," and it starts thus: History failed us, but no matter. At the turn of the century, an aging fisherman and his wife decided to take in lodgers for ...
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1answer
161 views

Meaning of “moralize over every morning visit” in Pride and Prejudice

In the final chapter of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen writes Mary was the only daughter who remained at home; and she was necessarily drawn from the pursuit of accomplishments by Mrs. Bennet's ...
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38 views

Why is the be-verb here infinitive in “the Female Persuasion”?

I have been reading a book titled "the Female Persuasion." There is a phrase with a infinitive be-verb, which I am curious about why "be" should be instead of am. "I wasn't supposed to be here at ...
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1answer
67 views

Meaning of “and a good halfpenny where 'twas a bad one” in Thomas Hardy's “Far from the Madding Crowd”

From Far from the Madding Crowd, from the scene in which Bathsheba is paying her workers their wages: "What do you do on the farm?" "I do do carting things all the year, and in seed time I shoots ...
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1answer
57 views

What does “get to” mean in “Hillbilly Elegy”?

I have been reading a book titled "Hillbilly Elegy," and I have its Korean translation too. But at some part, especially which I am curious about in meaning, the translation seems so uncertain, so I ...
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1answer
110 views

What's the meaning of the last two sentences in Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3?

Here, Malcolm is talking to Macduff as they are now determined to overthrow Macbeth. Generally speaking, I know what is going on but I'm not sure what Malcolm means by "cheer" and "night" that never ...
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21 views

What does “pick up shop” mean in “Hillbilly Elegy”?

Let me share some part of the book, and I would appreciate if you give me the answer to my question. There were undoubtedly many of these children and grandchildren, as hillbillies tended to have ...