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 "Ephete" in Seamus Heaney's "The Stations of the West"

So far, the only definition I've managed to get is "a member of an ancient Athenian court that tried certain murder cases" (Merriam-Webster), but since the poem is about traveling to the ...
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Meaning of "Illimba", "mani" and "acuminus" in "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy?

I'm reading The God of Small Things, a novel by Keralan author Arundhati Roy. She masterfully plays with words, sometimes transforming them, mimicking the way a seven year old would (the main ...
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What is the meaning of the cabdriver's retort in Chandler's "The Long Goodbye"?

In Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel "The Long Goodbye" the following exchange occurs: I got into the taxi and we went the three-odd blocks to my parking lot and shifted to my car. I held out ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
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Brideshead Revisited: Prince Rupert’s Horse

Hooper, in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, was no romantic. He had not as a child ridden with Rupert's horse or sat among the camp fires at Xanthus-side; at the age when my eyes were dry to all ...
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What is the meaning of "to go buy oil" in Manto's "Mummy"?

Toward the beginning of Saadat Hasan Manto's short story "मम्मी" (mammi / Mummy), the narrator and his wife find themselves abandoned to the tender mercies of a friend's slow-moving servant: ...
verbose's user avatar
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What's all the blinking about?

On the Subway ("The Last Poets," 1970, track 02) (genius.com link) concludes with shouting the word "blink" a lot, and I'm not sure what it means. On the surface level, I figure it might be ...
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What is the “presence” in Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’?

In Wordsworth’s ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ he describes a “presence”:                                 And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated ...
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"And there was yet a greater difficulty. I had read somewhere an aphorism that everything may be false to itself save human nature."

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter II, passage 36, published 1892) The house, by daylight, had proved to be six stories high, the same as ever. I could find, with ...
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What does “it” refer to in this line from “The Mental Hospital Garden”?

What is “it” in the following lines from "The Mental Hospital Garden" by William Carlos Williams? It is a bounty                       from last year’s nest. Williams, William Carlos. "...
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Understanding comparisons in Crowcolour by Ted Hughes

In the poem "Crowcolour", the shortest of Ted Hughes' Crow poems, there's a series of comparisons of Crow's blackness with other black images. Here's the full poem: Crow was so much ...
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The motif of Tom O' Bedlam

The 17th-century motif of Tom O' Bedlam has always been one that I hold much affection and wonder for (as can be assumed by the choice of username on my part.) The motif most famously makes an ...
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What is the "hidden something" in Joseph Conrad's: Youth

In Joseph Conrad's short story Youth: A Narrative, Conrad writes What made them do it—what made them obey me when I, thinking consciously how fine it was, made them drop the bunt of the foresail ...
TomDot Com's user avatar
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In what way would windows appease or calm us?

Alain Bashung's song Sur un trapèze, with lyrics by Gaëtan Roussel (see the Wikipedia article about the album Bleu pétrole, released in 2008), begins with the following lines (emphasis and links ...
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In the given line, what is the relation between ‘short-sighted’ and ‘education’? What does it mean by strict views on education?

In Act II of The Importance of Being Earnest, Gwendolen says this in a conversation with Cecily: Gwendolen: [...] And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully ...
Scarlett Evans 's user avatar
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Why did "the human race became a small committee surrounded by affectionate animals" for Sartre in the Words?

What is Sartre's metaphor meaning in the Words when saying : "The human race became a small committee surrounded by affectionate animals." The context is when he begins to become familiar ...
Revolucion for Monica's user avatar
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What does "Rebirth of Slick" mean when it quotes "On the Subway"?

Digable Planets' Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That) ("Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)," 1993, track 06, released as a single in 1992) (genius.com link) quotes the "blink blink" passages ...
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Nietzsche: It is improbable that you are not mistaken: double negative

In Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 1, #16, Nietzsche is criticizing idealism, and he says: He who ventures to answer these metaphysical questions at once by an appeal to a sort of intuitive perception, ...
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How to parse "the release of the want of the want of release"?

In Justin Torres' Blackouts, which won the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction, the central character, Juan Gay, twice refers to "the release of the want of the want of release." In the ...
verbose's user avatar
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In The Crying of Lot 49, why does Bortz feel he's "too young" to answer his son's questions?

Late on in Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Professor Bortz says the following to the protagonist, Oedipa, as they discuss a book related to the fictional Jacobean playwright Richard Wharfinger. "...
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What's the significance of this sentence in the tale "Ladri in chiesa" by Alberto Moravia?

The tale Ladri in chiesa (Thefts in church) belongs to the book Racconti romani (Roman tales) by Alberto Moravia. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any translation to English of this short ...
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Meaning of Proust's "Real life, life at last laid bare and illuminated ... is literature"

Marcel Proust writes in The Past Recaptured (English translation by Andreas Mayor, 1970): Real life, life at last laid bare and illuminated—the only life in consequence which can be said to be really ...
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What's the symbolism of the Cid's beard?

The book El "Cantar de Mio Cid" y la épica medieval española by Alan Deyermond, at page 37, mentions el simbolismo de la barba del Cid that is, "the symbolism of the Cid's beard",...
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Why did Halle have butter all over his face

In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, Sethe's husband Halle never came back to Baby Suggs' house after planning to run away from Sweet Home. After Paul D arrives, he later blurts out to Sethe of what he ...
Amarylis Vaselaar's user avatar
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108 views

Meaning of wordplay on 'which' and 'witch' in Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country

I'm reading Matt Ruff's horror novel Lovecraft Country (2016). The second chapter, entitled "Dreams of the Which House", is a story about a haunted house. I found the title plays on Lovecraft's ...
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What does Athena’s statement to Zeus at the beginning of The Odyssey reveal?

I was told to analyze this passage in book 1 of The Odyssey, having read only books 1-4: And sparkling-eyed Athena drove the matter home: “Father, son of Cronus, our high and mighty king, surely he ...
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Meaning of this line in Candida by Shaw

There is a speech by Lexy in the beginning of Act I when he is talking to Proserpine: LEXY. Ah, if you women only had the same clue to Man's strength that you have to his weakness, Miss Prossy, there ...
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In The Wall Jumper, what is the meaning of the very last line about walls still standing?

In The Wall Jumper by Peter Schneider the very last line is: The city outside, with its fire walls, garden walls, border walls - those walls will still be standing when no one is left to move ...
SomeGuy30145's user avatar
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What is the meaning of Izquierdo's ending statement?

In the very end (Act III, Scene 11) of Emmanuel Roblès's play Montserrat, Izquierdo replies to Father Coronil's, after asking if he had regretted his decision: ENGLISH: No. He only talked to ...
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What's the meaning of "you should worry" in the following lines from Pinter's Birthday Party?

What's the meaning of "you should worry" in the following lines from Pinter's Birthday Party (emphasis mine)? LULU. You’re tickling me! GOLDBERG. You should worry. LULU. I’ve always liked ...
A playgoer's user avatar
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What does "counteracting the sweets of poetical despondence" mean in "Persuasion"?

In Jane Austen's Persuasion, when Anne and company are walking over to Winthrop, we are given this description along the way: Winthrop, however, or its environs—for young men are sometimes to be met ...
Mithical's user avatar
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What is the meaning of "breaking out and into himself" in Ocean Vuong's "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous"?

I'm reading On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong, and I'm not sure whether I'm grasping the right meaning of this sentence. He was a boy breaking out and into himself at once. The ...
avx's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
103 views

Explain a quote from "The Great Wall of China" by Franz Kafka

Can anyone explain the following quote from the short story "The Great Wall of China" by Franz Kafka: First, one must realize that at that time certain achievements were brought to fruition ...
Siddharth Mahendiran's user avatar
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26 views

What does "just look" mean in Judged?

In Judged by Ziyad Marar, the author was discussing why it's harder for women to be both nice and in control, the twin pillars of good reputaion: It turns out that while the blend of being nice and ...
Ahmed Samir's user avatar
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2 votes
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332 views

Meaning of a "dry palate" and "frozen rain" in Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"

I am currently reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, consider the following passage. The colonizers just came to the tribe of Mbanta and everyone seemed uninterested... But there was a young ...
Kryptic Coconut's user avatar
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Catcher in the Rye - Chapter 1 "If I get a chance to remember that kind of stuff..."

In Catcher in the Rye, the narrator failed his school so he had to leave. Before leaving, he thought to say good-by to his history teacher. Then, he brought up his memory of playing football with his ...
www's user avatar
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Does Rousseau say that men are slaves of governments and laws?

Jean-Jaques Rousseau wrote Discours sur les sciences et les arts. In the very first part, the third paragraph says the following: Original (French) L'esprit a ses besoins, ainsi que le corps. Ceux-ci ...
Itération 122442's user avatar
2 votes
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28 views

What happened to Mohini?

In Premchand's short story "The Desired Destination" (first published in 1911, available here in its original Urdu), the narrator is in love with a girl named Mohini and opens by saying that ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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Interpretation of a Camus Quote

In The Plague, Rieux, the main character of the novel, in Chapter 15, claims that I've seen too much of hospitals to relish any idea of collective punishment. What does he mean by that? How exactly ...
newbie's user avatar
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What does Saki mean by "the Fiscal Question"?

In Reginald on Tariffs, Saki writes: [Reginald]: I’m not going to discuss the Fiscal Question (said Reginald); I wish to be original. At the same time, I think one suffers more than one realises ...
TomDot Com's user avatar
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What is the meaning and significance of "urubutinga" in Mário de Andrade's "O lundu do escritor difícil"

The title is suggestive enough to elicit an understanding that Andrade probably purposefully made this poem difficult to read for people who are not familiar with Tupi culture. A conscious effort of ...
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Why do Albanians "take life whenever they get the opportunity"?

In Reginald on Tariffs, Saki writes: There are only two classes that really can’t help taking life seriously—schoolgirls of thirteen and Hohenzollerns; they might be exempt. Albanians come under ...
TomDot Com's user avatar
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Understanding the meaning of "Eructation of unhealthy souls" in T.S. Eliot's Burnt Norton

In the third section of Burnt Norton we find these lines Eructation of unhealthy souls Into the faded air, the torpid Eructation have two meanings Belching Eruption So, if we take up the second ...
Knight wants Loong back's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
85 views

What does James Baldwin mean by 'democratic' in his open letter to Angela Davis?

James Baldwin's open letter to Angela Davis contains the following sentence (emphasis added): The will of the people, in America, has always been at the mercy of an ignorance not merely phenomenal, ...
Pound Hash's user avatar
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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 ...
Connoisseur's user avatar
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Analysis of "Liberty Tree" by Thomas Paine

I am having some trouble comprehending a portion of "Liberty Tree" by Thomas Paine, and was unable to find a decent analysis of it. It is my understanding that this poem is about the Liberty ...
temporary's user avatar
2 votes
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83 views

What does Lorca mean by ‘the oppressed reds’ and ‘garnet violence’ in his poem ‘The King of Harlem’?

I've already asked one question on this poem and I did think to include this question along with it but decided against it as the poem is quite long, though of course not as long as some ancient epics ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
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2k views

What is the difference between emotions and feelings in Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads?

In the Preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads (1800), Wordsworth famously wrote that all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: (...). He later adds (my emphasis): ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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In An Inspector Calls, is there any deeper meaning attached to the name Birling?

Several of the characters in J. B. Priestley's play An Inspector Calls have names of symbolic significance. Most notably, Inspector Goole plays on his potential supernatural aspects: "spectre&...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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What scene is "To the west the Park dripped wretchedly...about its affairs" describing?

The fog was like a saffron blanket soaked in ice-water. It had hung over London all day and at last was beginning to descend. the sky was yellow as a duster and the rest was a granular black, ...
Seulgi So's user avatar
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1 vote
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What is the meaning of this excerpt from "The Scarlet Letter"?

What is the meaning of this excerpt from chapter 3 of The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne? They were, doubtless, good men, just and sage. But, out of the whole human family, it would not ...
michaelgs's user avatar