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sympathy

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By the time the man with the camera had cut across
our neighbor’s yard, the twins were out of the trees
swingin low and Granny was onto the steps, the screen
door bammin soft and scratchy against her palms.

“We thought we’d get a shot or two of the house
and everything and then . . .”
“Good mornin,” Granny cut him off. And smiled
that smile.
“Good mornin,” he said, head all down the way
Bingo does when you yell at him about the bones on
the kitchen fl oor. “Nice place you got here, aunty.
We thought we’d take a . . .”
“Did you?” said Granny with her eyebrows. Cathy
pulled up her socks and giggled.
“Nice things here,” said the man buzzin his camera
over the yard. The pecan barrels, the sled, me and
Cathy, the fl owers, the painted stones along the
driveway, the trees, the twins, the toolshed.
“I don’t know about the thing, the it, and the stuff,”
said Granny still talkin with her eyebrows. “Just
people here is what I tend to consider.”
Camera man stopped buzzin. Cathy giggled into
her collar.
“Mornin, ladies,” a new man said. He had come up
behind us when we weren’t lookin. “And gents,”
discoverin the twins givin him a nasty look. “We’re
fi lmin for the county,” he said with a smile. “Mind if
we shoot a bit around here?”
“I do indeed,” said Granny with no smile.
Smilin man was smiling up a storm. So was Cathy.
But he didn’t seem to have another word to say, so he
and the camera man backed on out the yard, but you
could hear the camera buzzin still.
“Suppose you just shut that machine off,” said
Granny real low through her teeth and took a step
down off the porch and then another.
“Now, aunty,” Camera said pointin the thing
straight at her.
“Your mama and I are not related.”
(1971)

Hi, I have some questions about this.
1) I thought that a clause which follows "by the time" must be in simple tense (simple present, simple past ...). Why does the author make it past perfect here ? (had cut across).
2) What does "the twins out of the trees swingin low" mean ? Did the kids fall from the tree ?
3) What does "swingin low" mean ? low here is adjective or adverb ?
4) What does "onto the steps" mean ?
5) What does "bammin soft and scratchy against her palms" mean ?

Thanks so much
 

Anglika

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Hi, I have some questions about this.
1) I thought that a clause which follows "by the time" must be in simple tense (simple present, simple past ...). Why does the author make it past perfect here ? (had cut across).
2) What does "the twins out of the trees swingin low" mean ? Did the kids fall from the tree ? No - they swing down from the branches, holding onto them as they come down.
3) What does "swingin low" mean ? low here is adjective or adverb ? adjective - they swung on a low trajectory
4) What does "onto the steps" mean ? Granny was on the steps
5) What does "bammin soft and scratchy against her palms" mean ? probably "closing".

Thanks so much

You are reading a highly dialectical and colloquial piece of American English, so many usages are unusual or technically incorrect, but quite acceptable in the context of the speech.
 

sympathy

Junior Member
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Thanks.

I would like to ask you about the word "soft," and "scratchy against her palm"?

What does "soft" describe?
What does "scratchy against her palm" mean?
WHat does a noise (BAM!) has to do with "scratchy"?
 

Anglika

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Member Type
Other
It is a matter of reading the text and interpreting the author's intentions from the context.

Probably the screen door closed softly but (owing to its metal mesh) also scratchily on her hand.

Where is the word "BAM!"?
 

sympathy

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Member Type
Student or Learner
I have several more questions.

By the time the man with the camera had cut across
our neighbor’s yard, the twins were out of the trees
swingin low and Granny was onto the steps, the screen
door bammin soft and scratchy against her palms.
“We thought we’d get a shot or two of the house
and everything and then . . .”
“Good mornin,” Granny cut him off. And smiled
that smile.

“Good mornin,” he said, head all down the way
Bingo does when you yell at him about the bones on
the kitchen fl oor. “Nice place you got here, aunty.
We thought we’d take a . . .”
“Did you?” said Granny with her eyebrows. Cathy
pulled up her socks and giggled.
“Nice things here,” said the man buzzin his camera
over the yard. The pecan barrels, the sled, me and
Cathy, the fl owers, the painted stones along the
driveway, the trees, the twins, the toolshed.
“I don’t know about the thing, the it, and the stuff,”
said Granny still talkin with her eyebrows. “Just
people here is what I tend to consider.”
Camera man stopped buzzin. Cathy giggled into
her collar.
“Mornin, ladies,” a new man said. He had come up
behind us when we weren’t lookin. “And gents,”
discoverin the twins givin him a nasty look. “We’re
fi lmin for the county,” he said with a smile. “Mind if
we shoot a bit around here?”
“I do indeed,” said Granny with no smile.
Smilin man was smiling up a storm. So was Cathy.
But he didn’t seem to have another word to say, so he
and the camera man backed on out the yard, but you
could hear the camera buzzin still.
“Suppose you just shut that machine off,” said
Granny real low through her teeth and took a step
down off the porch and then another.
“Now, aunty,” Camera said pointin the thing
straight at her.
“Your mama and I are not related.”
(1971)

1)What does "And smiled that smile" mean?
2)What does "with her eyebrows" mean?
3)What is the toolshed?
4)What does "the thing, the it, and the stuff" mean? What does it suggest about the tone of the Aunt Granny?
5)What does "smiling up a storm" mean? I guess it means "very much", "smile very much." Is that correct? But anyway I can't understand the tone of this phrase. What else does the author imply?
6)I thought that "swingin" and "bammin" are typos. But it turns out that every "ing" is turned into "in." So what's wrong with swinging, bamming, talking, buzzing, looking? Why did the author write swingin, bammin, talkin, buzzin, lookin.
I first saw the 'in' in Of Mice and Men, but those 'in's were in spoken language and had apostrophes: lookin', givin', etc
But here is written language, and why isn't there an apostrophe?
 

sympathy

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2007
Member Type
Student or Learner
7)What does the Camera man mean by "Now Aunty". What about the tone?
 

Anglika

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Member Type
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I have several more questions.



1)What does "And smiled that smile" mean? "GRanny" evidently has a particular kind of smile that the narrator recognises as perhaps meaning that the other person is in trouble.
2)What does "with her eyebrows" mean? She probably did not actually say this, but merely raised her eyebrows.
3)What is the toolshed? A shed in which tools are kept.
4)What does "the thing, the it, and the stuff" mean? What does it suggest about the tone of the Aunt Granny? Granny [grandmother] - not Aunt Granny. SHe is not impressed by this man and is indicating that what he says is unimportant.
5)What does "smiling up a storm" mean? I guess it means "very much", "smile very much." Is that correct? But anyway I can't understand the tone of this phrase. What else does the author imply? ...up a storm = in a remarkable or energetic fashion —used as an intensifier
6)I thought that "swingin" and "bammin" are typos. But it turns out that every "ing" is turned into "in." So what's wrong with swinging, bamming, talking, buzzing, looking? Why did the author write swingin, bammin, talkin, buzzin, lookin. "-in' " is a common means of indicating the spoken omission of "g" at the end of a participle, generally regarded now as signs of an uneducated speech pattern.
I first saw the 'in' in Of Mice and Men, but those 'in's were in spoken language and had apostrophes: lookin', givin', etc
But here is written language, and why isn't there an apostrophe?

Because the author is representing the narrator's dialectical spoken English, not writing a formal essay!

.
 

Anglika

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Joined
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Member Type
Other
7)What does the Camera man mean by "Now Aunty". What about the tone?

The man with the camera is mistakenly regarding "Granny" as an ignorant, uneducated old countrywoman and thinks he will try to placate her but has stupidly chosen a patronising term.
 
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