hang on to a tragedy

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JuriTerreni

Senior Member
Chinese-China
From movie<Lavender>,

Jane's in a store, she sees a newpaper, she asks the shop owner if she can see it. And the owner says, It's a shame to hang on to such a tragedy, I know, but I never put much stock in what they print anyway.

You can see the headline "Farmhouse massacre" on the paper. Jane's parents and sister died in that massacre. Nobody really knows what happened. Jane is visiting her uncle at the farmhouse.
What does "hang on to such a tragedy" mean, thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To hang on to something -> in this context, to persist in remembering/discussing, etc something; usually in the sense of refusing to abandon (figuratively or literally) something that the speaker believes would be better forgotten or disposed of.

    A: "Look, that is Harry's car - He must have owned it for 10 years."
    B: "Yes, I don't know why he hangs on to it - he should buy a new one."
     

    JuriTerreni

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    To hang on to something -> in this context, to persist in remembering/discussing, etc something; usually in the sense of refusing to abandon (figuratively or literally) something that the speaker believes would be better forgotten or disposed of.

    A: "Look, that is Harry's car - He must have owned it for 10 years."
    B: "Yes, I don't know why he hangs on to it - he should buy a new one."
    But in this context, is it the paper or a person that hangs on to the tragedy? If it's the paper, then shame here means shameful not unfortunately, right?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    But in this context, is it the paper or a person that hangs on to the tragedy?
    "It is a <noun>" is the impersonal form. It expresses a generality and does not indicate any particular subject.

    "It is a shame." is a set phrase.

    "It's a shame to hang on to such a tragedy," means "As a general observation on the matter of the massacre, the publicity that it continues to receive, after all this time, is somewhat disappointing and a little reprehensible."
     

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Since the paper reports on an old tragedy, it is undoubtedly an old newspaper from the time when the events occurred. The store owner has kept it, probably since he's in the town where the events occurred.

    The store owner is saying that he really shouldn't hold on to the past as he has been doing, especially since the story is not necessarily accurate.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Since the paper reports on an old tragedy, it is undoubtedly an old newspaper from the time when the events occurred.
    Absent context, I don't think we can assume this. It is always possible that new information has brought the case into the news again. And you would have to ask that if the storekeeper thinks "it is a shame", why would he keep an old newspaper with that headline?
     
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