some people had dragged out that old chestnut

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Stephen Schmidt

Senior Member
Arabic
Hi everone,
Could you explain the bold sentence, please?
From Stephen King's the Mist:
Source: http://sf.arpnic.net/King,%20Stephen%20-%20The%20Mist.pdf
Queer weather. Coupled with the grueling winter we had come through and the late
spring, some people had dragged out that old chestnut about the long-range results of
the fifties A-bomb tests again
. That, and of course, the end of the world. The oldest
chestnut of them all.
Thanks.
 
  • RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    You have something you almost never use (golf clubs, exer-cycle, fine arts paint set, whatever) so you put it in deep storage at the back of the garage. Then, when you want it, you have to drag it out.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    (This is not an apt definition, but it's close, from WRF) Chestnut: an old or stale joke. Indeed, a "chestnut" is old but it is not limited to jokes. It could be a story, a song, a stage routine, almost anything that was once very popular, has been around, and still gets repeated from time to time.

    Fifties A-bomb tests: Nuclear testing was at its height in the 1950s. During the 50s, 60s, and 70s a lot of people used to speculate about the long-term effect of all that radiation that was released. Everything from mutant babies to weird weather was suspected of being the result of A-bomb testing. I actually had a newspaper insert (magazine) from the period that asked whether nuclear testing would affect our weather. Of course, the bikini was also an after-effect of A-bombs.;)
     

    Stephen Schmidt

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Great explanation! But I still don't understand why King had to use such words.
    What is the idea that he wanted us to get?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    For some reason the file you link to starts to load and then stops. What I can offer you off the top of my head is that SK likes to meld references from earlier decades (usually from his childhood era) with his otherworldy science fiction themes. In three short sentences plus a fragment, King manages to combine a commonplace about the weather with an oblique reference to nuclear war and a specific but offhand mention of Armageddon.

    He likes to place his stories in small-town America, so he has to have these cultural references. It creates a startling contrast between the familiar and known versus the unknown.
     
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