drag back in


I need some help with the following. It's a book, a short novel.
It's a dialogue, they're talking about the story of the main character, whose father killed himself several years after being involved in a murder case. The main character's best friend is telling the true story to his wife-to-be.

"Five years ago, Ed King left his family a note before he broke into your grandfather's bookstore, Steph, and shot himself in the basement. The note confessed to his involvement in the murder. He didn't pull the trigger, but he was there. His alibi was fake."
"Was he a reluctant participant?" I asked, hopeful.
He shrugged one shoulder. "Hard to say now. He definitely regretted it afterward. He made that very clear in his suicide note. He wrote that he'd been sucked into organized crime through a childhood friend. The hardware store had been used to launder money, and he'd been a stand over man. He was a big guy, and knew how to fight. (...)He said in his note that he had wanted to clean up his act after it happened. He wanted to get out. But every time he tried to leave, he kept getting dragged back into the criminal scene."
"I can't imagine they'd want anyone leaving and risk blabbing to the police," Emma said.

I know it doesn't mean he was physically dragged back, but I can't understand what it's meant exactly:
Does it mean he was dragged back into the criminal scene because he regretted it, or that it was the other criminals who kept reminding him, using his involvement to threaten him?

Thanks a lot for your help!
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    It happened against his will, so he was dragged. He did not mean to get back into the criminal scene but did nonetheless.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    At that point in his life they were probably the only friends he had and he had no regular work experience. So to pay his bills it was probably the easiest way he knew how to make money. A way of life becomes a habit after awhile.

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    When Emma says "I can't imagine they'd want anyone leaving", "they" are the criminals. And "they" are the ones who were preventing him from leaving.

    I suppose you could surmise that he was bored with the everyday life of a normal working person, so the excitement brought him back. But the quoted section doesn't support that, either.

    It's quite reminiscent of this scene from The Godfather, Part III:

    Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in
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