dark double

keannu

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This passage is from Lydia Minatoya, The Strangeness of Beauty. ©1999 by Lydia Minatoya.

Akira was waiting in the entry. He was in his early twenties, slim and serious, wearing the black military-style uniform of a student. As he bowed—his hands hanging straight down, a black cap in one, a yellow oil-paper umbrella in the other—Chie glanced beyond him. In the glistening surface of the courtyard’s rain-drenched paving stones, she saw his reflection like a dark double. “Madame,” said Akira, “forgive my disruption, but I come with a matter of urgency.” His voice was soft, refined. He straightened and stole a deferential peek at her face. In the dim light his eyes shone with sincerity. Chie felt herself starting to like him.

What are "deferential peek " and "dark double" here?
 

Tarheel

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It's hard to say. The reflection off the paving stones would have to be a shadow (dark double). As for the other one, the word "peek" doesn't work. He's looking right at her.

The writer is trying very hard to be creative.
 

Tdol

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I think he's sneaking a glance.
 

5jj

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The question is rather: where does it say he's looking right at her? He's stealing a deferential peek.
 

Tarheel

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Maybe it's an American thing. I don't know. Maybe some places they talk to people without looking at them.

The "deferential" thing tells me he considers her his superior in some way.

In some societies class is very important. Members of the lower class are expected to be deferential to members of the upper class.
 

jutfrank

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I'm not sure what you're confused about here, Tarheel. Yes, Madame Chie is clearly superior to Akira, which is why he's not looking at her, except to 'steal a deferential peek'.

What does being American have to do with anything?
 
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Tarheel

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We don't have a class system here.

Does "deferential peek" make sense to me? No. If I'm peeking at somebody I don't think she can see me doing it.
 
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