rip out hearts

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Senior Member
"He thought of death in its infinite groanings, of Aztecs ripping out living hearts and of cancer and three–year–olds buried alive and he wondered whether God was alien and cruel, but then remembered."

Would you please explain the bit "in its infinite groanings"?

Legion by William Peter Blatty

To rip basically means to tear and cut but here it implies to me "pull out living hearts by cutting".

rip | Definition of rip in US English by Oxford Dictionaries

So I find the definitions confusing.
  • pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    "pull out living hearts by cutting".
    No. To rip out hearts as the Aztecs did means to reach into the already split-open chest cavity and seize the heart without cutting the heart arteries, and rip it out. That is to say, pull on it until the heart is ripped away from the arteries, etc.
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