Interested in Language
I also read this sentence:
Nonetheless it did somehow, for a moment at least, surprise me to find this white British officer addressing his darker-skinned visitor as "Sir". After all these years had I still not spat out the poison from the time almost 30 years before when my mother told me to spit out the sweet "from that nasty, dirty black man's pocket".
What is meaning of 'poison', 'sweet' & 'from that nasty, dirty black man's pocket' respectively? Here, I don't understand them accurately.
But if someone asked me the meaning of "to spit out the sweet from that nasty black man's pocket' , I can not explain it in English. Would you like to describe it in other word? Thank you.
Last edited by gonghoujun; 26-Aug-2008 at 15:52.
'from the pocket of that nasty black man'. For the mother, anyone who wasn't white was 'nasty'; and foreigners' personal hygiene was suspect as well, so the pocket was considered 'nasty' as well.
The unspoken context is this: a black man had given the child a sweet; s/he of course accepted gladly and put it in his/her mouth. The way taboos work is that anything associated with a taboo object is 'unclean'.
After all these years had I still not spat out the poison (gotten rid of the bad memory of my mother making such a racist remark) from the time almost 30 years before when my mother told me to spit out the sweet "from that nasty, dirty black man's pocket".(get rid of a piece of candy that had been given to a child by a black man, because she felt it was most likely a nasty, dirty pocket, since it belonged to a black man.)
Since the mother had much more influence over him, he would have "learned" this prejudice, even though he did not understand it yet. The child accepted the racist "value" system of the parent.
Looking back on the event, he now knows the truth, yet he had not gotten rid of its influence (hence his uncomfortable feeling over having to call the black person, "Sir") It still haunted him.
Thank Teachers Bobk, Susiedqq and Raymott very much for your good explanations with patience & in detail. Under your guidance I understand my these quetions at last!