Cement overcoat

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New Member
Hi, I was just finishing Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, when I stumbled across this:

“He knew where Montana Wildhack really was, of course. She was back on Tralfamadore, taking care of the baby, but the magazine, which was called Midnight Pussycats, promises that she was wearing a cement overcoat under thirty fathoms of saltwater in San Pedro Bay.

Not being a native speaker, I have a problem with the underlined phrase. I understand it means "dead", but how exactly would such a death be inflicted upon the character? Did she drown? If so, why a cement overcoat?

Thank you.
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    Senior Member
    American English
    It usually means the person was weighted down somehow and thrown into the sea to drown; alternatively, the person could already be dead and is simply being disposed of.

    A similar expression is cement shoes and here is the Wikipedia article on that. Here is a quote from that article:

    Cement shoes traditionally involve binding or incapacitating the victim and placing each foot into the two spaces of a cinderblock, which is then filled with wet cement. [snip] When the cement hardens, the victim is thrown into a river, lake or the ocean. It is unclear how often such a cumbersome and time-consuming method of execution was actually used, outside of Hollywood movies. It could also be used for aiding in the disposal of a corpse already dispatched by other means so that the victim is never found if deposited in deep water.

    The article is short -- you should read it.
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