accidental burden

gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi there,

At the conclusion of Chapter Eight in the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

"With little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool. A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden. "

Actually, I don't get the sentence. A gust is a brief, strong wind. Then how am I supposed to understand "a small gust"? If it is too "small" to disturb the water surface, then how could it move "the laden mattress" with a body (I guess)?

Please enlighten me.

Gil
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Hi there,

    At the conclusion of Chapter Eight in the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

    "With little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool. A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden. "

    Actually, I don't get the sentence. A gust is a brief, strong wind. Then how am I supposed to understand "a small gust"? If it is too "small" to disturb the water surface, then how could it move "the laden mattress" with a body (I guess)?

    Please enlighten me.

    Gil
    First off, this is ART, so anything can happen. :)

    Secondly, a gust is brief, but in this case not strong. This is not unusual use of the word - it just denotes a sudden blow compared to the stillness, so it is strong in comparison to the prevailing condition, not strong on a fixed scale.

    It was not too small to disturb the water, it "scarcely corrugated it". We are to imagine a very gentle ripple, then. This was "enough" to change the mattress's direction: "disturb its course".

    I guess the idea is the dead weight of the body does not have any control of the mattress, so the mattress and its cargo bob about in response to the slightest change in the environment.

    Fitzgerald uses accidental twice to suggest the lack of intention to both the mattress and the deadness of Gatsby.
     
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