he was considerably reduced in his circumstances,

Discussion in 'English Only' started by celine713, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. celine713 Senior Member

    Chinese
    "A companion with whom I was sailing, one very windy, but bright moonlight night, when the stars were few and faint, thought that a man could get along with them, though he was considerably reduced in his circumstances,that they were a kind of bread and cheese that never failed."

    Does this sentence mean:this companion of him thought that a man could imagine moon and stars to be his food and means for survival, despite of mishaps in his real life, since those celestial bodies are eternal and available to be perceived?

     
  2. celine713 Senior Member

    Chinese
    Am I in the right? Thanks for any ideas!
     
  3. Jtolj Banned

    USA English
    It just means that their current circumstances were worse than they were before.
     
  4. celine713 Senior Member

    Chinese
    I see, thanks J!
     
  5. Bearbearian New Member

    English
    No. He was speaking as the navigator of a boat, being reduced by only having the stars from which to navigate, instead of, for example, a compass. The stars are not as accurate, not as nourishing at giving a person their exact position, but they are reliable and certain. The stars are a staple of knowing where one is, as bread and cheese may be seen as staples of a basic, though poor, diet. In this metaphor, information is food that fuels the sailor's journey, and keeps him safe from starving or in this case, getting lost.
     

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