drift around

Sun14

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello, my friends,

I have been reading a novel named Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen and came across the sentences in Chapter 9:

As for Callie's own feet, they are bare, like her hands; which appear nonetheless of intense interest. They drift slowly around her; she scrutinizes them as if for signs of dishpan damage.

I cannot figure out what does "drift round" mean. I check Collins dictionary and find an entry but it refers to someone traveling from place to place without a plan. Here "they" refers to two things or persons, but the author is describing only one person. Does "they" refers to "her feet"? Then what does it means that "they drift around her.

Would you give me some advice? Thank you.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "They" should refer to "her feet". Callie should be floating in water. Maybe she is in a swimming pool or a bath tub. As she floats, her feet also float and drift slowly in the water. She looks at them carefully as though she was checking to see if they were wrinkled (dishpan damage) from being in the water too long.

    Don't get too confused by "around" here. Her feet are not swimming in a circle around her body in this paragraph. :rolleyes: Instead, they are drifting slowly through the water as she floats.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "They" should refer to "her feet". Callie should be floating in water. Maybe she is in a swimming pool or a bath tub. As she floats, her feet also float and drift slowly in the water. She looks at them carefully as though she was checking to see if they were wrinkled (dishpan damage) from being in the water too long.

    Don't get too confused by "around" here. Her feet are not swimming in a circle around her body in this paragraph. :rolleyes: Instead, they are drifting slowly through the water as she floats.
    Thanks a lot. It seems that Callie is on the beach, because the first sentence of the paragraph writes:

    "What are you doing?" Mona finds Callie on the golden crescent beach.

    And the sentence before the one I give is:

    "Callie is barely dressed in an orange swirly-print kimono-like gown, with a fringe at the bottom. Attached to the fringe at random intervals are beads and what look like to be rabbit feet, although they also be some other manner of rodent extremity. Mona holds out the limp hope they may prove synthetic."

    I am sorry for providing the limited text.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It's the hands which appear of intense interest, and it's the hands that drift, and of course only hands can show any signs of "dishpan damage".
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Velisarius is right, Sun. The passage refers to her hands, not her feet. Being something less than fascinated by Callie's story, I didn't read it as carefully as I should have.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Velisarius is right, Sun. The passage refers to her hands, not her feet. Being something less than fascinated by Callie's story, I didn't read it as carefully as I should have.
    No. It is my fault.:D Although the forum has rules to limit the length of the reference, I should give the context. I am always appreciating your help. Thank you very much.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I see, but it is still very difficult for me to understand "They drift slowly around her".
    Then you should try to be more specific, Sun. What don't you understand about that sentence? Are you troubled by the word "around"? It just means that her hands are drifting through the water as she floats.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Then you should try to be more specific, Sun. What don't you understand about that sentence? Are you troubled by the word "around"? It just means that her hands are drifting through the water as she floats.
    I think they are on the beach, not in the water, since Callie wears the gown. That's why I feel it is awkward.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    If you are sure that she is walking on the beach and is not floating in the water, then "they drift slowly around her" is strange language.

    If you read the whole story, maybe you'll be able to figure out for yourself why the author chose that phrase.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    If you are sure that she is walking on the beach and is not floating in the water, then "they drift slowly around her" is strange language.

    If you read the whole story, maybe you'll be able to figure out for yourself why the author chose that phrase.
    I see, but don't you feel odd to wear a gown to swim?
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    She isn't in the water. If you read on it appears that Callie is doing her "Chinese exercises", so she must be making some slow drifting movements with her (arms and?) hands.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    She isn't in the water. If you read on it appears that Callie is doing her "Chinese exercises", so she must be making some slow drifting movements with her (arms and?) hands.
    I see. Did you reply to my thread about the "Chinese exercises" before? I remember but I can't find the thread.
     
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