The grin came flickering on his face

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Senior Member
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 410, chapter 18) by DH Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Connie wanted to live with Mellors. But Mellors said he didn't believe in the world, not in money, nor in the future of civilization. Then Connie asked him what the future would be like and told him he had something other men didn't have..…)

‘Tell me then,’ he replied.
‘It’s the courage of your own tenderness, that’s what it is: like when you put your hand on my tail and say I’ve got a pretty tail.’
The grin came flickering on his face.

That(=is that so ?)!’ he said.

In a previous thread(here), the grin was explained to have the meaning of ironic. But I don't know whether it's the same in the blue sentence.(I feel sometimes it's ironic, and sometimes it's due to happiness)
Could you please give me some help?
Thank you in advance
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  • PaulQ

    English - England
    The context1 is that Mellors, who has been describing himself and his philosophy, has admitted that the present, which is unsatisfactory, should be replaced by a better system but that he is uncertain what that system should be. Connie moves the conversation onwards and has just asked Mellors if she should tell him what distinguishes him from other men.

    At this stage, Mellors does not believe that Connie can do this and is amused by the thought but agrees. She then says "‘It’s the courage of your own tenderness, that’s what it is: like when you put your hand on my tail and say I’ve got a pretty tail.’ the contrast of that with his own earlier, more serious, but far broader description of himself, causes him to start to grin in amusement - but he recognises what she has said as a further declaration of love and now the grin starts to become more permanent. And... ""The grin came flickering on his face." -> at first there was only the hint of a grin on his face, and then, gradually, it became permanent.

    to flicker - to repeat by being visible and then invisible, or to repeat by being hardly noticeable and then noticeable.

    1I realise that if you do not know the meaning, relevant context is hard to provide, but a short description of the scene prior to the example is always welcome. :thumbsup:

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I agree with what PaulQ says above - it's a genuine grin, and not ironic at all.

    As for the statement "That!", Mellors is referring to Connie's description of what makes him special. I can imagine him saying it in a bemused way, like he had never considered it before. "Then he sat thinking. `Ay!' he said. `You're right. It's that really."
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