She touched the edge of the sheer curtains beneath

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Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
She stood and walked to the windows, the floorboards shifting and creaking beneath the worn carpet. Velvet drapes brushed the floor, remnants from the far-flung time when this place had been an elegant estate. She touched the edge of the sheer curtains beneath; yellow, brittle, they billowed dust. Outside, half a dozen cows stood in the snowy field, nosing for grass.
(The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards)

As far as I know 'beneath' means 'under, below, in a lower place', but it seems to me that the sheer curtains can't be beneath the velvet drapes that brushed the floor. The sheer curtains, in my opinion, are 'behind' the drapes.

Is my understanding of this sentence correct and if so why did the author use the word 'beneath'? In case I've understood it wrong, please explain it to me.

  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Occasionally, "beneath" can be used to mean "behind," from the observer's point of view. For instance, if you peeled away the paint on your wall, I think we would generally say that you were exposing the plaster or drywall beneath it.

    I don't know if I would have written the passage about the curtains in the same way, but I couldn't say it is an incorrect use of "beneath."
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