a little pluck from the surface tension

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "a little pluck from the surface tension" means in the following sentences:

His left arm stretched away along the trench and was half-covered in water. His right eye was so close to this water that he could feel a little pluck from the surface tension when he blinked and his eyelashes caught in the film. The water had flattened again by the time he saw the surface consciously but his right cheek and the corner of his mouth were under water and were causing a tremble. The other eye was above water and was looking down the trench.

- William Golding, Pincher Martin, Chapter 3

This is a novel published in the United Kingdom in 1956. The novel mainly follows the state of mind of a sailor called Christopher "Pincher" Martin, a temporary naval lieutenant who is apparently desperately fighting for his life in the Atlantic after the military ship has sunk. Here, he has arrived at an island in the sea. After having struggled to climb up because he realized that the waters were rising because of the high tide, he now lies on the high part of the island.

In this part, I am wondering about what "a little pluck from the surface tension" would mean.
I learned in the dictionary that "pluck" could mean "a tug", but then, I wondered how the surface tension could pull/tug his eye (my understanding is that the surface tension could rather push/resist his eye rather than pulling/drawing it), so I am not sure whether I am going in the right direction. o_O


I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • puli_dog

    Senior Member
    Hello everyone. I would like to know what "a little pluck from the surface tension" means in the following sentences:

    His left arm stretched away along the trench and was half-covered in water. His right eye was so close to this water that he could feel a little pluck from the surface tension when he blinked and his eyelashes caught in the film. The water had flattened again by the time he saw the surface consciously but his right cheek and the corner of his mouth were under water and were causing a tremble. The other eye was above water and was looking down the trench.

    - William Golding, Pincher Martin, Chapter 3

    This is a novel published in the United Kingdom in 1956. The novel mainly follows the state of mind of a sailor called Christopher "Pincher" Martin, a temporary naval lieutenant who is apparently desperately fighting for his life in the Atlantic after the military ship has sunk. Here, he has arrived at an island in the sea. After having struggled to climb up because he realized that the waters were rising because of the high tide, he now lies on the high part of the island.

    In this part, I am wondering about what "a little pluck from the surface tension" would mean.
    I learned in the dictionary that "pluck" could mean "a tug", but then, I wondered how the surface tension could pull/tug his eye (my understanding is that the surface tension could rather push/resist his eye rather than pulling/drawing it), so I am not sure whether I am going in the right direction. o_O


    I would very much appreciate your help. :)
    This is a feeling you can easily replicate by placing the palm of your hand over a water surface and then slowly lowering it until, when barely in contact with the surface, you will feel your hand attracted by the surface tension's force.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear The Newt and puli-dog,

    Thank you very much for the explanations!
    This is a feeling you can easily replicate by placing the palm of your hand over a water surface and then slowly lowering it until, when barely in contact with the surface, you will feel your hand attracted by the surface tension's force.
    Oh, I think now I see what this "pluck" is... So, if a hand is in contact with water slightly, the water has the surface tension so that it tries to drag the waterdrops on the hand towards itself while merging with the waterdrops. And that creates the pulling sensation for the hand!

    So his right eye was not actually in the water, but the eye could feel the pulling force because of the surface tension of the water when he blinked, and felt as if the water might drag his eye into water (because the eyelashes were already in contact with the water which was pulling the lashes towards itself).

    And the eye was so near to the water that its lashes caught in the water film. Probably the lashes were like attached to the water surface, and thus "caught" in the film. :D

    I truly appreciate your help, for letting me understand. :)
     
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