beat the needle

Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
<Clarice Starling> You know what’s scary, Ardelia? It’s scary when somebody tells you the truth. I’d like to see him [Dr Lecter] beat the needle. If he can do that, and he’s put in an institution, there’s enough academic interest in him to keep his treatment pretty good.
Hannibal, Thomas Harris
Could anyone please explain me what the underlined part means?
Could it mean that Clarice Starling wants to see if Dr Lecter passes some kind of a test or if he can bear telling him the truth?

Thanks in advance,
Thomas
 
  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    More context from the earlier part of the conversation would be helpful...
    to avoid a sentence of death by lethal injection, maybe.
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think it means to avoid execution, execution by the method of chemical injection (the needle). But I have never seen the movie or read the book, so I could be wrong!
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    I’m not sure it helps but here’s the earlier part of the dialog:

    <Ardelia> Could you shoot him?

    <Clarice Starling> To keep my own chitterlings in place, are you kidding me? My God, I hope that never happens, Ardelia. I’d be glad if he got back in custody without anybody else getting hurt-including him. I’ll tell you though, sometimes I think, if he’s ever concerned, I’d want to take the point going for him.

    <Ardelia> Don’t even say that.

    <Clarice Starling> With me he’d have better chance to come out alive. I wouldn’t shoot him because I’m scared of him. He’s not the wolf man. It would just be up to him.

    <Ardelia> Are you scared of him? you better be scarred enough.

    <Clarice Starling> You know what’s scary, Ardelia? It’s scary when somebody tells you the truth. I’d like to see him [Dr Lecter] beat the needle. If he can do that, and he’s put in an institution, there’s enough academic interest in him to keep his treatment pretty good.
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Much better - thanks! She repeats several times that she wants him to be brought into custody alive. This leaves me more convinced that the needle refers to the death penalty.
     
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