abiding source of cheer

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keannu

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1. What does this "cheer" mean? "good spirit" or "the sacrament"?
2. Does this "which" refer to "shelter" or "abiding source"?

st57)Man differs from the lower animals because he preserves his past experiences...But man lives in a world where each occurrence is charged with echoes and reminiscences of what has gone before, where each event is a reminder of other things. Hence he lives not, like the beasts of the field, in a world of merely physical things, but in a world of signs and symbols..A flame is not merely something which warms or burns, but is a symbol of the enduring life of the household, of the abiding source of cheer, nourishment and shelter to which man returns from his casual wanderings.
 

SlickVic9000

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1) "Good spirits" is a fair synonym for it. "Morale" is another good one.

2) It refers to "abiding source".
 

Barb_D

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I say it's the shelter to which he can return.
 

5jj

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I agree with Vic. I think it's "the abiding source (of cheer, nourishment and shelter) ...."
 

BobK

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But whatever it is, it's a good example of how not to write. ;-)

b
 

keannu

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Then, would it be better to correct it like this to prevent confusion?

old)A flame is not merely something which warms or burns, but is a symbol of the enduring life of the household, of the abiding source of cheer, nourishment and shelter to which man returns from his casual wanderings.
new)A flame is not merely something which warms or burns, but is a symbol of the enduring life of the household, of the abiding source of shelter, nourishment and cheer to which man returns from his casual wanderings.
 

BobK

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That doesn't make a huge difference. What bothered me was the length of the sentence, and the way it was made long by adding extra stuff without structure (which makes the reader have to work harder). The writer's just saying 'Here are some words that I see as relevant, but it's up to you to sort them out into something meaningful.' Once again I'm reminded of the Sheridan quote (I'm not sure which, but probably the earlier one):
We write with ease to show our breeding,
But easy writing's curst hard reading.

b
 
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