...spared what only the most generous soul would call his life

Anfisa

Senior Member
Russian
What does the red part mean?
he had cancer in his balls and they thought he was going to die but he didn’t die and now here he is, a full-grown adult in a church basement in the 137th nicest city in America, divorced, addicted to video games, mostly friendless, eking out a meager living by exploiting his cancertastic past, slowly working his way toward a master’s degree that will not improve his career prospects, waiting, as we all do, for the sword of Damocles to give him the relief that he escaped lo those many years ago when cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life.

(From John Green's The Fault In Our Stars.5)
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The cancer took his testicles, but it spared (what only the most generous person would call) his life. In other words, cancer didn't take his life, but considering his divorce, addiction to video games, lack of friends and poor job prospects (even if he gets his master's degree) – plus his lack of virility – it's not really as much of a life as one would hope for.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life.

    Usually we would expect "cancer took both of his nuts but spared his life."

    When the narrator adds "what only the most generous soul would call", this indicates that the narrator's opinion is that "his" life was not very pleasant.

    Crossposted
     

    Anfisa

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks a lot, Copy and Paul. :thumbsup:
    Could you please clarify the meaning of the following part?
    <waiting, as we all do, for the sword of Damocles to give him the relief that he escaped lo those many years ago>
     
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