obscure reference

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Jeepster

Senior Member
After God- only- knows- how- long came the sound of the chosen pig roasters coming back into the casita, bringing their various recriminations with them, although mercifully he couldn’t really understand them.

Tom Wolfe. Back to Blood

The final them = pig roasters or recriminations? If the former then should I take couldn’t really understand as could not hear their words clear?
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It could really be either. I think they were speaking in Cuban, and our hero doesn't know much Cuban apparently.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The word 'mercifully' is the key here.
    Tom could hear the pig-roasters, he could tell that they were arguing, but he could not make out what they were arguing about.
    He could feel the emotional tensions, but because he could not tell what it was about, he had the relief of knowing that he would not become involved.
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, but the recriminations were against him (Nestor). He knew this but he didn't understand exactly what they were saying about him. He was already involved, but since the recriminations were not in English he wasn't forced to reply.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Ah, I see. In that case, 'mercifully' is an ironic comment by the author, not a reference to a sense of relief on Tom's part. Meaning: 'If he had known, he would have been more worried'.
     
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