and that’s what matters

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "and that’s what matters." means in the following sentences:

‘And it might seem like madness to anyone else,’ Mum goes on. ‘To haul everyone out to this freezing godforsaken island in the middle of nowhere. But it is important to Jules, and that’s what matters.
I don’t like the sound of that, either.

- Lucy Foley, The Guest List, Chapter 14

This is a thriller novel published in 2020 in the United Kingdom. One hundred and fifty guests gathered at some remote and deserted fictional islet called Inis an Amplóra off the coast of the island of Ireland to celebrate the wedding between Jules (a self-made woman running an online magazine called The Download) and Will (a celebrity appearing in a TV show program called Survive the Night). The day before the actual wedding day, at the rehearsal dinner, Jules' mother suddenly gets up from her chair and starts a speech in front of the guests, much to Jules' chagrin. At this remark in the quote, the narrator Jules gets angry.

In this part, I am wondering what "and that’s what matters" would mean.
I looked "to matter" up in the dictionary and it said it means "to be important," but still I am not sure whether Jules' mother here is implying criticism against Jules' personality that she doesn't care others at all when she thinks something is to be done (but it could be that I am reading too much into it...), or just stating in a matter-of-fact manner that what her daughter thinks is the foremost important thing.

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

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    But it is important to Jules, and that’s what matters.’ -> and that (i.e. being important to Jules) is the main consideration; and that (i.e. being important to Jules) is the most important thing.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    No criticism is intended, quite the opposite. Mum means that the most important thing (i.e. "what matters") is that Jules should be happy on this her special occasion, and if it's important to her (for whatever reason, even if we don't understand it) to "haul everyone out to this freezing godforsaken island in the middle of nowhere", and if that is what's going to make her happy, then we should respect that.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear PaulQ and Edinburgher,

    Thank you very much for the explanations!
    So she means "that" (="the degree/feeling of importance on the part of Jules") is the main consideration, and should be respected, although no one else understands it, because it is her wedding after all.
    I sincerely appreciate your help. :)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    There is a concept called a left-handed compliment (in AE, I don't know about BE). It means to give someone what sounds like a compliment but that also includes (and sometimes is mainly) a criticism.

    Imagine a mother saying to a daughter who has problems with her weight and therefore her self-esteem:

    - It's wonderful that you've managed to finally fit into that dress after all this time.

    It's a compliment on the surface. But it's not one that will likely make her daughter feel good.

    I think this is a similar idea. Her mother is saying the most important thing is that her daughter has the kind of wedding she dreams of. That's what a good mother says. But she manages to include a criticism with it that makes it clear she thinks the whole idea was stupid.
     
    Last edited:

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear kentix,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    Wow. I didn't know that there was such an expression like "a left-handed compliment"!
    Your example sentence really showed me what it is like; the sentence really left a lingering bitter taste in my mouth. :D

    So here, Jules' mother is behaving like she is a good mother, mentioning that what her daughter thinks is the most important, but underneath, she is basically saying that "You don't really care for others' feelings or situations, do you? Did you really have to haul everyone all the way to this godforsaken island on the middle of nowhere just for your wedding ideal?"

    I learned a new thing thanks to you! I sincerely appreciate your help. :)
     
    Top