a person’s pantry

AlexanderIII

Senior Member
Russian
Dear all,
this is from the story 'Horsie' by Dorothy Parker. Mary is a servant in the Cruger's household, Miss Wilmarth is a trained nurse who dines with the head of the family. Mary dislikes Miss Wilmarth.

But no smile would mellow Mary’s lips, no light her eyes. Mary, in converse with the cook, habitually referred to Miss Wilmarth as “that one.” She wished no truck with Miss Wilmarth or any of the others of her guild; always in and out of a person’s pantry.

It's clear what pantry is, but here it looks like an idiom. Does Mary mean Miss Wilmarth always prys, enquires too inquisitively into a person's private affairs ?
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    No, it's literally a pantry. The pantry is part of Mary's domain: she doesn't want people coming in and out of it all the time.
     

    AlexanderIII

    Senior Member
    Russian
    No, it's literally a pantry. The pantry is part of Mary's domain: she doesn't want people coming in and out of it all the time.
    It's clear that a nurse could be in and out of the pantry.
    But why a person's pantry? It would have been clear had it been just pantry.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, it's not clear that a nurse could be in and out of the pantry. As far as Mary is concerned nobody should be violating her pantry. The text says "person's" because that is what Mary would say "Who does she think she is, always in and out of a person’s pantry!" meaning a pantry that doesn't belong to "she", but belongs to another person, in this case Mary.
     

    AlexanderIII

    Senior Member
    Russian
    No, it's not clear that a nurse could be in and out of the pantry.
    Why not? A nurse now and then needs different utensils, milk ect.

    As far as Mary is concerned nobody should be violating her pantry.
    Actually it's not her personal pantry, it's household pantry. If it belongs to someone, then it belongs to the owners of the household. And the nurse takes care of their daughter. So I am not with you, Andygc. Could you explain, please?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Why not? A nurse now and then needs different utensils, milk ect.

    Actually it's not her personal pantry, it's household pantry. If it belongs to someone, then it belongs to the owners of the household. And the nurse takes care of their daughter.
    So, RedwoodGrove, you agree with my interpretation, do you not?
    Well, you were asking about two different questions. Why a "person's" has been dealt with.

    I agree with your interpretation concerning the nurse's behavior. I think the point of DP's description is that the nurse has a reason to go into the pantry but the cook is extremely defensive of her own domain. Cooks or chefs typically are. From what I've read, the master of the home would rarely or never enter the kitchen. The wife might on occasion. In an upper class household, the kitchen was separate.

    I think part of what DP is doing is creating an image of an American household that is the same as an English upper crust mansion. But not quite. ;)
     

    AlexanderIII

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I still don't understand.
    I suppose we all agree about a nurse's necessity to use a pantry.
    1) Mary speaks of the nurse's prying into other person's affairs or
    2) about nurse's constant visiting the pantry?
    Could you please point out which one?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don't have any views on a nurse's need to use a pantry.

    The answer to your question is (2).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's irrelevant what you, or I, or Santa Claus and his reindeer think about a nurse's need to use a pantry.

    The issue here is what Mary thinks.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Actually it's not her personal pantry, it's household pantry. If it belongs to someone, then it belongs to the owners of the household. And the nurse takes care of their daughter. So I am not with you, Andygc. Could you explain, please?
    As Loob said, what matters is what Mary thinks. The pantry is her responsibility. As far as she is concerned it is her pantry, just as the kitchen is the cook's kitchen. It doesn't matter at all that the owners of the house own the pantry and the kitchen. If somebody unwanted comes into the kitchen, Cook will say "Get out of my kitchen". Mary would like to say to Miss Wilmarth "Get out of my pantry."
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    This may be too obvious to mention, but I really think the key word in "always in and out of a person’s pantry" is "always." Regardless of whose pantry it is and whether or not the nurse may need to use it sometimes, it bothers Mary that the nurse is always (i.e. far too often) in and out of someone else's ("a person's") pantry.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Loob is entirely correct from an AE point of view as well. Many employees (household, office, and other) consider their assigned work area their domain (they organize the area in a certain way, keep tools and supplies in particular places, etc.) and become annoyed if other employees invade "their" space.
     
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