mottled smell

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kahroba

Senior Member
Persian
Dear all
What's your interpretation for "mottled beery smell" in the following context from "Manhattan Transfer" by Dos Passos:
As he walked wearily he could feel his potbelly cramped by his tight belt. Poor old warhorse you need a couple of dirinks to think about things. A mottled beery smell came out through swinging doors. Inside the barkeep's face was like a russet apple on a snug mahogany shelf.
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Dos Passos likes using words suitable for one sense to apply to another. Here the word mottled meaning patchy, variegated in appearance, to the sight, is applied to the sense of smell. I get a meaning of a mixture of smells, first one thing then another.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Mr E drinks mottled beer in Lanky pubs, my dear Kahroba.

    To answer your first question: the phrase is ambiguous. I'd take it to mean the smell of beer and armpits and dirt and maybe urine from the lavatories. That would be a pretty mottled smell.
     
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