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so close ... that 'it' almost touches his. [whose face?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Rabelaisian, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Rabelaisian Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    English - Canadian
    John brings his face so close to the stranger’s that it almost touches his.

    In your mind, when you read that,
    knowing that the stranger is also a man, what does "it" represent to you? Either way, the sentence means the same thing, but I'm just curious as to how most might perceive "it."

    Thanks.

    Source: me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  2. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I would take 'it' to be the stranger's face and 'his' to be that of John, and I don't see much room for interpretation here. :confused:
     
  3. Rabelaisian Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    English - Canadian
    No? What about the room for "it" being the stranger's face, since "it" comes right after it's mentioned?
     
  4. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Actually, that's exactly how I'd read it. I've mixed up the two and edited my post seconds after submitting it.
     
  5. Rabelaisian Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    English - Canadian
    Oh, okay. That makes sense, then.

    Thanks.
     
  6. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Touching as a state is between two things equally salient, but touching as a motion has the moving thing as subject and the (normally static) target as object, so in the absence of contradictory context I would tend to understand 'it' as moving towards something: so 'it' is John's face. But in this imagined context do we know the sex of the stranger? If not, the repetition of 'his' may outrank that other clue.
     
  7. Rabelaisian Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    English - Canadian
    Ah! Yes, I was concerned about that aspect of it. So because John is the one moving closer, it is his face that touches, rather than the other way around, since the stranger isn't moving towards John, hence his (the stranger's) face is ​touched. Oh, and, yes, as I stated in the original post, we know the stranger is a man.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013

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