__________________________________________________________________________________ I've been puzzling over a sentence in John Fowles' novel The Magus. I had never realised how ambiguous the verb "betray" can be.
The narrator is describing his new Australian girl-friend:
Alison was always female; she never, like so many English girls, betrayed her gender. She wasn't beautiful, she very often wasn't even pretty. But she had a fashionably thin boyish figure, she had a contemporary dress sense, she had a conscious way of walking, and her sum was extraordinarily more than her parts. I would sit in the car and watch her walking down the street towards me, pause, cross the road; and she looked wonderful.
I think there are two possible interpretations: i) you couldn't tell by looking at her whether she was male or female. ii) she was always loyal to her gender - she dressed and acted in a feminine way.
Fowles must have intended meaning (ii), since "Alison was always female", but am I right in saying that the verb is ambiguous here, and is it being used correctly? It seems to me that if we disregard the context, meaning (i) is more likely.