a large head of a small stick constantly in his mouth

Bolboreta85

Member
Spanish-Spain
Hi,

I have found this sentence in a Lewis Carroll's Story, 'Crundle Castle'. One of the characters, a young man, asks the main character, a 30 year-old woman and mother of a boy if she is, in fact, this boy's grandmother. She then feels very resentful. The thing is, when that Young man is about to tell her that 'insult', the narrator tells that. Here is the whole extract:

I beg your pardon, ma'am' interposed a pale tall young man, leaning over a chair, with a large head of a small stick constantly in his mouth, `but do you happen to be his--grandmother?'

I am not sure about the meaning of that part. I don't even know if there is some kind of pun underlying. Since it is a Carroll's story I tend to think there is one (maybe that "stick constantly in his mouth" alludes to the fact that he is always willing to make clear his criticism. I don't know. I am probably thinking too much about it and it just refers to a toothpick or something like that. I have no idea.

If someone could help me, it would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

P.S.: In case someone needs more context or is just interested in the story, he/she can find it here: CRUNDLE CASTLE
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It was, I believe, a fashion among certain young men in those days to suck the end of their walking stick. The Broker from Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark is depicted that way in the original illustrations. I think this is what it means.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I found another example from P.G.Wodehouse:

    Darling Motty is essentially a home bird. Aren't you, Motty darling?"
    Motty, who was sucking the knob of his stick, uncorked himself.
    "Yes, mother," he said, and corked himself up again.

    My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse: Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest
    Motty is twenty-three. Perhaps this habit conveys the stereotype of a rather immature and not very bright young man. In both cases the writer is, I think, mocking the stick-sucking young man.
     

    Bolboreta85

    Member
    Spanish-Spain
    Thank you very much, entangledbank and velisarius. I thought about that at the beginning, but then I decided it didn't make much sense and that couldn't be it. I have been trying to give it so many meanings because of that...
    You have been really helpful. Thanks again.:)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I found another example from P.G.Wodehouse:



    Motty is twenty-three. Perhaps this habit conveys the stereotype of a rather immature and not very bright young man. In both cases the writer is, I think, mocking the stick-sucking young man.

    A walking stick as an adult pacifier? I cannot imagine this.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Apparently he's also "vegetarian and teetotal by his mother's instruction", so what can we expect?:D

    Middlebrow Wodehouse

    Another one, from Virginia Woolf (Street Haunting, 1930):

    Indeed, the dwarf had started a hobbling grotesque dance to which everybody in the street now conformed: the stout lady tightly swathed in shiny sealskin; the feeble-minded boy sucking the silver knob of his stick [ . . . ]—all joined in the hobble and tap of the dwarf’s dance
    https://www.english.upenn.edu/sites/www.english.upenn.edu/files/Lyon-Janet_On-Asylum-Road-with-Woolf-Mew.pdf
     
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