safe for returning/in space

Maybo

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She was the only daughter; her four brothers went with her father, husband, and uncles "out on the road" and for some years became western men. When the goods were divided among the family, three of the brothers took land, and the youngest, my father, chose an education. After my grandparents gave their daughter away to her husband's family, they had dispensed all the adventure and all the property. They expected her alone to keep the traditional ways, which her brothers, now among the barbarians, could fumble without detection. The heavy, deep-rooted women were to maintain the past against the flood, safe for returning. But the rare urge west had fixed upon our family, and so my aunt crossed boundaries not delineated in space.

1.What does "the past" mean? They used the same method as what they did in the past to against the flood?

2."Safe for returning"<--- What does it mean? The women protected their houses and waited for men back home? Or preventing the flood return?

3.What does "rare" and "in space" mean?

No Name Woman – by Maxine Hong Kingston
https://www.google.com.hk/url?sa=t&r...WFUumdwOKE-Zq2
 
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GoesStation

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1. The grandparents expected their granddaughter to maintain the traditional way of life of their region.

2. The granddaughter would maintain a traditional refuge to which her brothers could come back if or when they tired of the Western ways they had adopted. "The flood" refers to the overwhelming onslaught of Western values.

3. I can't make sense of the extract's final sentence.
 

Tarheel

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Is the word "west" not capitalized in the original?
 

Matthew Wai

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They expected her alone to keep the traditional ways, which her brothers, now among the barbarians, could fumble without detection.
What does 'fumble without detection' mean? I have consulted several dictionaries but still don't understand it.
 

Maybo

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What does 'fumble without detection' mean? I have consulted several dictionaries but still don't understand it.
Her brothers could fumble the barbarians without detection? I guess......:roll:
 

Tarheel

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What does 'fumble without detection' mean? I have consulted several dictionaries but still don't understand it.

I am guessing it means her brothers would be abandoning the traditional ways, and since they were in a foreign country nobody would know. At least not firsthand.
 

Matthew Wai

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I am guessing it means her brothers would be abandoning the traditional ways, and since they were in a foreign country nobody would know. At least not firsthand.
'Fumble' means 'abandon', and 'without detection' means 'without anyone's knowledge'. Is that correct?

Her brothers could fumble the barbarians without detection? I guess......:roll:
I guess what her brothers could fumble was 'the traditional ways', the antecedent of 'which', rather than 'the barbarians', which is used after 'which'.
 

Tarheel

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Matthew, your guess is as good as mine. And while "fumble" doesn't ordinarily mean "abandon" the writer seems to be using it that way here.
 

Matthew Wai

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https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/fumble
3 [intransitive, transitive] to drop a ball after catching it
I think 'fumble' means 'abandon' in your context because it can mean 'drop a ball'.
What was dropped was not a ball but the traditional ways.
 
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