a red sore of…

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Senior Member
Dear all,
Could you please help me out with a difficulty in the novel by Dennis Lehane 'Gone, Baby, Gone'?

His smile broke into a hard, bitter laugh that exposed a red sore of a mouth with almost no teeth.

This is said about a guy of about 35, he drinks a lot, he is pale, skinny and looks as if he is 45.
I guess he has gums and teeth problems, probably his mouth is a complete sore, all-round inflamed and thus red. Is this interpretation correct and thorough?
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    The shape and colour of the person's mouth reminds the author of a sore - maybe thin lips, red on the inside.

    This is a metaphor; there is no sore.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Normally, one sees teeth in an open mouth; teeth are white, or something close to white. This fellow is said to have "almost no teeth", so that almost all one saw would be lips, gums, tongue—all, shades of red, not unlike a sore.


    Senior Member
    You see, probably this is another case of the author's inadvertence: the bar the action takes place is dimly lit. As the author has it 'sallow dark green ambience of the place'. So I believe the cavity of the mouth must look black, not red.
    But anyway, Thank you, Parla, very much for your explanation.
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