Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    sherishine's Avatar
    sherishine is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    79
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    The plane came out of the sand. There had been no food and I was weak. The tarp so heavy I couldn’t dig it out but had simply to cut it away. In the morning, after two hours’ sleep, I carried her into the cockpit. I started the motor and it rolled into life. We moved and then slipped, years too late, into the sky.

    The voice stops. The burned man looks straight ahead in his morphine focus.

    The plane is now in his eye. The slow voice carries it with effort above the earth, the engine missing turns as if losing a stitch, her shroud unfurling in the noisy air of the cockpit, noise terrible after his days of walking in silence. He looks down and sees oil pouring onto his knees. A branch breaks free of her shirt. Acacia and bone. How high is he above the land? How low is he in the sky?


    The undercarriage brushes the top of a palm and he pivots up, and the oil slides over the seat, her body slipping down into it. There is a spark from a short, and the twigs at her knee catch fire. He pulls her back into the seat beside him. He thrusts his hands up against the cockpit glass and it will not shift. Begins punching the glass, cracking it, finally breaking it, and the oil and the fire slop and spin everywhere. How low is he in the sky? She collapses—acacia twigs, leaves, the branches that were shaped into arms uncoiling around him. Limbs begin disappearing in the suck of air. The odour of morphine on his tongue. Caravaggio reflected in the black lake of his eye. He goes up and down now like a well bucket. There is blood somehow all over his face. He is flying a rotted plane, the canvas sheetings on the wings ripping open in the speed. They are carrion. How far back had the palm tree been? How long ago? He lifts his legs out of the oil, but they are so heavy. There is no way he can lift them again. He is old. Suddenly. Tired of living without her. He cannot lie back in her arms and trust her to stand guard all day all night while he sleeps. He has no one. He is exhausted not from the desert but from solitude. Madox gone. The woman translated into leaves and twigs, the broken glass to the sky like a jaw above him.



    what does" missing turns" mean? And what about"losing a stitch"?
    Last edited by sherishine; 17-May-2010 at 04:47. Reason: Add text and color

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    17,278
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    I am having a hard time understanding this passage at all.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    sherishine's Avatar
    sherishine is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    79
    Post Thanks / Like

    Smile Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    Dear Barb,

    Thank you for your thread!

    I have added more text, hope it would be helpful.

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    22,533
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I am having a hard time understanding this passage at all.
    To understand it you'd have to read the whole book, Barb, it's from "The English Patient" by Micheal Ondaatje. It's a book that has to be read from cover to cover, you can't make sense of snippets taken from it.

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    22,533
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by sherishine View Post
    The plane came out of the sand. There had been no food and I was weak. The tarp so heavy I couldn’t dig it out but had simply to cut it away. In the morning, after two hours’ sleep, I carried her into the cockpit. I started the motor and it rolled into life. We moved and then slipped, years too late, into the sky.

    The voice stops. The burned man looks straight ahead in his morphine focus.

    The plane is now in his eye. The slow voice carries it with effort above the earth, the engine missing turns as if losing a stitch, her shroud unfurling in the noisy air of the cockpit, noise terrible after his days of walking in silence. He looks down and sees oil pouring onto his knees. A branch breaks free of her shirt. Acacia and bone. How high is he above the land? How low is he in the sky?


    The undercarriage brushes the top of a palm and he pivots up, and the oil slides over the seat, her body slipping down into it. There is a spark from a short, and the twigs at her knee catch fire. He pulls her back into the seat beside him. He thrusts his hands up against the cockpit glass and it will not shift. Begins punching the glass, cracking it, finally breaking it, and the oil and the fire slop and spin everywhere. How low is he in the sky? She collapses—acacia twigs, leaves, the branches that were shaped into arms uncoiling around him. Limbs begin disappearing in the suck of air. The odour of morphine on his tongue. Caravaggio reflected in the black lake of his eye. He goes up and down now like a well bucket. There is blood somehow all over his face. He is flying a rotted plane, the canvas sheetings on the wings ripping open in the speed. They are carrion. How far back had the palm tree been? How long ago? He lifts his legs out of the oil, but they are so heavy. There is no way he can lift them again. He is old. Suddenly. Tired of living without her. He cannot lie back in her arms and trust her to stand guard all day all night while he sleeps. He has no one. He is exhausted not from the desert but from solitude. Madox gone. The woman translated into leaves and twigs, the broken glass to the sky like a jaw above him.



    what does" missing turns" mean? And what about"losing a stitch"?
    The engine "missing turns" means it is faltering, misfiring. "As if losing a stitch", here the author is making an analogy with someone losing concentration while knitting, resulting in breaks in the continuity of the stitches.

  6. #6
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    17,278
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    Ah, well, I saw the movie. It was visually beautiful. I guess they did a good job of translating the author's words into a visual portrait.

    Thanks
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. #7
    sherishine's Avatar
    sherishine is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    79
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    The engine "missing turns" means it is faltering, misfiring. "As if losing a stitch", here the author is making an analogy with someone losing concentration while knitting, resulting in breaks in the continuity of the stitches.


    Thank you Bhaisahab,

    The author indeed prefer metaphors, sometimes not that easy for me to understand.Bhaisahab, have you read this book? What 's the main difficulties you've come across in it?

    And could I ask you one more question? What 's your understanding on this sentence? "A branch breaks free of her shirt. Acacia and bone."
    Is that mean, a branch of acacia breaks, and falls onto his shirt? I think Acacia is a hint, which refers to the lost Zerzura, but I don't understand the "bone"here.

    And I feel totally at sea about this sentence ,"Limbs begin disappearing in the suck of air".

    O(∩_∩)O~

    Thank you.

  8. #8
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    22,533
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by sherishine View Post
    Thank you Bhaisahab,

    The author indeed prefer metaphors, sometimes not that easy for me to understand.Bhaisahab, have you read this book? What 's the main difficulties you've come across in it?

    And could I ask you one more question? What 's your understanding on this sentence? "A branch breaks free of her shirt. Acacia and bone."
    Is that mean, a branch of acacia breaks, and falls onto his shirt? I think Acacia is a hint, which refers to the lost Zerzura, but I don't understand the "bone"here.

    And I feel totally at sea about this sentence ,"Limbs begin disappearing in the suck of air".

    O(∩_∩)O~

    Thank you.
    Yes, I have read the book, but it was a long time ago and I don't have a copy of it now. As far as I remember, all that remains of her body is a skeleton inside rags of clothing. Her skeleton starts to come apart in the air flow around the plane.

  9. #9
    sherishine's Avatar
    sherishine is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    79
    Post Thanks / Like

    Wink Re: what does "engine missing turns" mean?

    Thank you BhaisahabO(∩_∩)O~

Similar Threads

  1. Some missing Words
    By Reham in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-Apr-2010, 19:20
  2. confusing missing words ....
    By herbiji in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-Jun-2009, 06:00
  3. [Grammar] Missing cargo
    By Zoe2008 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 16-Aug-2008, 19:05
  4. Missing Word: Gap fill Quiz
    By Red5 in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 15-May-2008, 20:24
  5. Went missing?
    By glorria in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-Dec-2006, 18:55

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •