old year’s chrysanthemum stalks

tesoke

Senior Member
USA
Persian
Hi, I cannot understand the meaning of the red part of the following sentence from "The Chrysanthemums" by "John Steinbeck". Would you please explain it to me? Thanks a lot.

She was cutting down the old year’s chrysanthemum stalks with a pair of short and powerful scissors.
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Which part of the phrase is confusing you, tesoke? If we said "last year's" instead of "the old year's," would that make the meaning clear?
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Chrysanthemums bloom in the summer. After the flowers are gone, the stalks (stems that once held the flowers) remain standing, often through the winter. The girl or woman in the sentence you quoted is cutting down the stalks of the chrysanthemums that bloomed last summer. Those are last year's stalks, or, more literarily, "the old year's chrysanthemum stalks."
     

    tesoke

    Senior Member
    USA
    Persian
    Thank you so much but my main problem is about "s" at the end of "old year". previously, I asked another similar question in another thread (http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2985103) and others had said that:

    entangledbank:
    Some of Steinbeck's characters: that would be correct. But you don't need it; proper names can modify other nouns: a Paris hotel.

    RM1(SS): Proper names are the names of people, places, animals, &c, and are always capitalised. John Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men. Charlie Brown. The Ellice Islands. The famous racehorse Secretariat. The Empire State Building. The Japanese battleship Yamato.

    I was thinking if old year is a proper name or not? Thank you for your helps.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Nouns of time often take an apostrophe-s ('s) or "Saxon genitive". They are the exception to the normal rule that only people take 's.

    E.g. all of the following are correct: John's dinner... My father's dinner... Yesterday's dinner... Mary's work... The boss's work... Tomorrow's work...
     
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