listening to the dank and hopeless sound

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Senior Member
I have at least one old man’s ill: I suffer from insomnia. Late at night I lie in my bed, listening to the dank and hopeless sound of infirm men and women coughing their courses deeper into old age. Sometimes I hear a call-bell, or the squeak of a shoe in the corridor, or Mrs Javits’s little TV tuned to the late news. I lie here, and if the moon is in my window, I watch it.
Source: The Green Mile
Context: The narrator is in a nursing home.

Would you say dank is a noun in this sentence? Or is the sound dank? What would it mean? Is the meaning of dank shifting?

Thank you.
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The sound is dank and hopeless. Dank is an adjective. It is an unusual collocation.

    I think we are supposed to gather that the place is dank and that the sounds somehow convey that fact. Possibly there is a reference to coughing and that is reminiscent of dank places.

    It isn't standard English - you can consider the author to be exercising poetic licence.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    It's an adjective. I think you have to imagine how a sound could be dank and hopeless.

    I suspect there is a figure of speech that covers the ascribing unusual adjectives to things.

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