he catches his toe...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kahroba, May 30, 2012.

  1. kahroba Senior Member

    Dear friends
    What's meant by "he catches his toe..." in the following passage, chosen from "Manhattan Transfer" [1925] by Dos Passos:
    Time 1905
    Location: on board of a steamer just arriving into Manhattan. A mother asks her son to promise he will stay on the promenade deck so that she can finish packing. The boy promises.
    The problem is that I can't imagine the scene or the position of the smoking-room to understand what's meant by "he catches his toe..." Is he climbing something by catching his toe on the threshold?
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    I assume that the brass threshold of that door is elevated above the rest of the floor, which would make it possible for this poor fellow to trip over it.
  3. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    I imagine the doorway of the smoking-room has some kind of brass bar along it, about one toe in height, just enough for you to catch your toe on it (= hit your toe on it and thereby trip or stumble or suffer pain or yell "damned stupid place to put a brass bar!"). The threshold can be just the barrier, the imaginary line of crossing, or it can be a doorstep or any such physical structure at the base of the door.
  4. kahroba Senior Member

    I see the point now, thanks to your patient explanation.
    Thanks again dear Owlman5, dear Entangledbank. Most helpful like always.

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