Robinson

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Hello,
I am translating a novel by Marilynne Robinson and cannot make sense of an enigmatic passage at the beginning of the book. I shall be grateful for any suggestions of the possible meaning of the following passage, especially the comb images.

"So she was borne to the depths, my grandmother, into the undifferentiated past, and her comb had no more of the warmth of a hand about it than Helen of Troy's would have."

The context: the narrator speaks of her grandmother dying; the speaker's mother's name was Helen and she drowned herself in a lake... I have discovered that Helen of Troy's comb is used to describe the small combs used to hold hair in place in the manner of hair pins.

Thank you for your answer(s).
 

fromatto

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Hello,
I am translating a novel by Marilynne Robinson and cannot make sense of an enigmatic passage at the beginning of the book. I shall be grateful for any suggestions of the possible meaning of the following passage, especially the comb images.

"So she was borne to the depths, my grandmother, into the undifferentiated past, and her comb had no more of the warmth of a hand about it than Helen of Troy's would have."

The context: the narrator speaks of her grandmother dying; the speaker's mother's name was Helen and she drowned herself in a lake... I have discovered that Helen of Troy's comb is used to describe the small combs used to hold hair in place in the manner of hair pins.

Thank you for your answer(s).


This is a guess: She was borne to the depths (she drowned) and thus she was carried into the undifferentiated past (she entered timelessness). On being dead, her comb was deprived of the warmth of her hand (about it/holding it), in the same way that Helen of Troy's own comb lacks warmth, because she too is dead.
 
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