sail along the cloudy coastline...

Angelya

Senior Member
Chinese
"To reach it was easy as climbing stairs; there were footholds of gnarled bark and tough vines to grip; even Catherine, who was heavy around the hips and complained of rheumatism, had no trouble. But Catherine felt no love for the tree-house; she did not know, as Dolly knew and made me know, that it was a ship, that to sit up there was tosail along the cloudy coastline of every dream. Mark my word, said Catherine, them boards are too old, them nails are slippery as worms, gonna crack in two, gonna fall and bust our heads don’t I know it ."

This is an excerpt from The Grass Harp by Truman Capote.

I cannot understand from "sail along" to the end? What is the dream? What's gonna crack in two, nails or the ship? What does "don't I know it" mean? Eager to receive your reply. Many thanks!

<Eduted by moderator (Florentia52) for readability>
 
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  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I interpret it as: Sitting up there (on this make-believe ship) one could imagine oneself sailing along and dreaming.
    It could mean the boards are going to split in two but also that the whole house/ship is going to fall apart.
    "Don't I know it!" means "As I am too well aware! / "I am well aware of the risks we are taking by being up here!"
     

    Angelya

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I interpret it as: Sitting up there (on this make-believe ship) one could imagine oneself sailing along and dreaming.
    It could mean the boards are going to split in two but also that the whole house/ship is going to fall apart.
    "Don't I know it!" means "As I am too well aware! / "I am well aware of the risks we are taking by being up here!"
    Well, actually, it's not a make-believe ship. It's real. And I wanna know whether the"dream" here is our goal or just a dream we may have at night. And why "the cloudy coastline"? Is the coastline full of clouds or not clear like liquids? Hope you can help me.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What is the dream?
    There isn’t any particular dream. And the word “cloudy” just implies misty/indistinct/dreamlike. Whatever dreams or fantasies you have can be indulged in the treehouse, which serves as an imaginary boat (or maybe consists of an old boat, according to what you’ve now said?).

    Dolly knew … that it was a ship, that to sit up there was to sail along the cloudy coastline of every dream.

    This could well be an oblique reference to the term dreamboat, which now only means a dishy/attractive male but would have had different connotations when this book was written in the 1940s. For example, the place where (in your imagination) your dreams come true.

    This note on the word’s etymology is from the OED:
    Dream boat
    (in its literal sense) is used as a metaphor in some love songs of the 1930s: G. Lombardo When My Dream Boat Comes Home (1936) and E. Scott Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat (1936). Compare also the title of the U.S. short film Who Has Been Rocking My Dreamboat (1941)
     
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