Noah’s Circle Line

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "Noah’s Circle Line" means in the following sentences:

I noticed that she had sorted the appetizers in pairs and placed them in neat little rows around the plate, as though she’d carefully lined them up for Noah’s ark—her way of making up for neglecting the punch, I thought. The tuna-avocado miniature rolls—male and female—the kiwi-tile fish—male and female—the seared scallop with a sprig of mache on a bed of slithered turnips with tamarind jelly and a dab of lemon rind on top—male and female made He them. No sooner had I told her why the extravagant miscellany had made me smile than I realized there was something daring in my remark about the paired appetizers that were about to propagate and fill the earth—except that before I had time to backpedal, I caught something else neighboring this idea that moved me in my stomach as if I’d been buoyed up and let down on a high wave: not male and female, not male and female shifting on the cold banks of the Black Sea, filing up to book passage on Noah’s Circle Line, but male and female as in you and me, you and me, just you and me, Clara, waiting our turn, which turn, whose turn, say something now, Clara, or I’ll speak out of turn and I haven’t had enough to drink to find the courage to say it. I wanted to touch her shoulder, wanted to rub the length of her neck with my lips, kiss her under her right ear and under the left ear and along her breastbone, and thank her for arranging this plate, for knowing what I’d think, for thinking it with me, even if none of it had crossed her mind.

- André Aciman, Eight White Nights, First Night

This is a novel published in the United States of America in 2010. The protagonist meets Clara at a New year's eve party. Here, Clara brought the protagonist some appetizers, instead of the fruit punch she had promised to bring. The appetizers are square fragments in pairs. So the protagonist is thinking about the paired animals in Noah's ark.

In this part, I wonder what the underlined expression means.
I am guessing that it is referring to Noah's ark in the Bible, but I am not sure what "Circle Line" (capitalized) might mean.
I have a feeling that, by "Circle Line," the ship was operated on a regular basis... though I am not sure.

I would very much appreciate your help. :)
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I am guessing that it is referring to Noah's ark in the Bible
    Certainly. Noah was commanded to bring two of each creature - one male and one female - into the Ark. However, "male and female made He them" comes from earlier on in Genesis (chapter 1 verse 27), from the creation of man and woman, and the narrator becomes horribly embarrassed as he remembers that the whole male and female thing was for the purpose of procreation.

    I am not sure what "Circle Line" (capitalized) might mean.
    Since this is an American book, I think we can ignore the possibility that it refers to the Underground line in London (this would be the obvious meaning in BrE, even though it makes little sense that I can see). Instead it appears to be merely a random name for a shipping line, operating ocean liners. "X Line" (or Lines) was a common form of name, such as White Star Line and Ellerman Lines, as if this were a regular ocean passage.

    Edit: I see The Newt has got in with a better answer.

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear The Newt and Uncle Jack,

    Thank you very much for the explanations!
    Oh, so Noah's ark in the Bible is being likened to the Circle Line (a group of sightseeing ships) around Manhattan. And it is "circle" line because it goes around the island of Manhattan!

    Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises - Wikipedia
    Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises is a boat-based sightseeing and entertainment company in Manhattan, New York. Its principal business is operating guided tours of New York City from its base at Pier 83 in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.

    So, by "Noah's Circle Line", the narrator is making a joke just like Noah from the Bible is guiding a tour ship, with paired male and female passengers. (And then the narrator is embarrassed about the implication of procreation.)
    And, by "He made them," it refers to Genesis! I learned many new things all thanks to you.

    I sincerely appreciate your help, for letting me understand. :)