beat and swell of the ages


Senior Member
For the first time in his life he felt the slow, terrible beat and swell of the ages and saw his life as a dim and glimmering spark in an edifice which, if seen clearly, might drive all men mad. Matt had not told them of Father Callahan’s conception of his church as a Force, but Ben would have understood that now. He could feel the Force in this fetid little box, beating in on him, leaving him naked and contemptible. He felt it as no Catholic, raised to confession since earliest childhood, could have.
Source: Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Context: Ben is in the confessional at the local Catholic Church, confessing to Father Callahan.

What does beat and swell mean?

Pre Check:
I could relate the beat to the rhythm of life... not sure about the swell, unless it is compared to the ocean waves.
I assume raise to confession = go to confession.

Thank you.
  • Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    Beat and swell are both musical here - the rhythm of the ages, and swell is like escalation/growth/building (though waves can behave in the same manner, so you're not wrong to think that).

    "Raised to confession"
    means brought up with the habit (and perhaps need) of going to confession, and with the implied sense of guilt that creates.
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