is ignorant enough to be kind

Yichen

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone,

Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground.
source: Alice Walker (paragraph 9)

My puzzles:
1. Is "is ignorant enough to be kind" kind or not kind?
(I think it basically means" the person is not kind because of being somewhat ignorant".)
2. I have looked up the word "ignorant" in a dictionary; however, I find it difficult do decide what it means: a. showing or resulting from lack of knowledge; b. rude
(I tend to choose the definition a. : The person is not clear about the situation of the injured dog)

To me, the "who-clause" means, "The person is not too sure about the dog's injury, and thus is not kind to the dog."
But I am just shooting in the dark.

What does the underlined sentence mean?


Many thanks.
 
  • Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    X is ignorant enough to be kind to Y. = X is so ignorant that he is kind to Y. (meaning: Y doesn't deserve kindness but X doesn't know that Y is bad or Y does bad things, so he is kind to Y.)
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    It definitely means that the person IS kind to the dog.

    My interpretation is:

    The dog (or Maggie) has been hurt and approaches people looking sad and needy, hoping for kindness. A person who shows kindness is 'ignorant' because s/he doesn't know how needy the dog/girl is and may end up getting involved/being asked for more than they expected.

    Englishmypassion's idea that the dog/girl doesn't deserve kindness might also be true – it depends on what we know about the dog/girl (whether it/she is a bad dog/person or not).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It isn't clear in which sense "ignorant" is meant, but if we take it to mean "not knowing a lot about the world", as a child is ignorant, it makes a lot of sense.

    I agree with Chez. A person who is ignorant in this sense is more likely to simply act on their humane instincts)". A person who is not ignorant but more knowing or worldly-wise would stop to think along these lines: "the creature will probably die anyway; it isn't my responsibility; it will cost me money in vet's bills..."
     

    Yichen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks. She has been like this, chin on chest, eyes on ground, feet in shuffle, ever since the fire that burned the other house to the ground.
    Thank you all for your time.

    What puzzles me is, basically, the meaning of "ignorant " can go two ways (putting whichever figure of speech aside) :
    1. People will say such a kindness is "ignorant" on this occasion.
    2. The helper of the dog is ignorant of its condition (that is, S/he does not know how seriously it is hurt).

    And No1 fits, doesn't it? (I hope that I haven't misunderstood velisarius.)


    Many thanks.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Both meanings can be present, and I think most readers would have to stop and think about it a little.

    My first impression was that the word had its more common (negative) meaning - "rough and uneducated". That doesn't suit the meaning of the sentence, unless you view it as an expression of how others (not the writer or the sympathetic reader) might view such an action in a negative way.

    My second impression was that "ignorant" must mean "not-knowing", as I explained in #5. There's a contrast with the careless rich person who ran the dog over: selfishness and lack of kindness v. innocence or lack of guile. This kind of ignorance is a positive trait, leading to an act of pure kindness.
     

    Yichen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I read your both posts again. Yes, I did misunderstand you. Now all is clear. Thank you.:thumbsup:
     
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