The snarl fixed itself

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "The snarl fixed itself" means in the following sentences:

The snarl fixed itself, worked on the wooden face till the upper lip was lifted and the chattering teeth bared. The little warmth of anger flushed blood back into the tops of the cheeks and behind the eyes. They opened.
Then he was jerking and splashing and looking up.

- William Golding, Pincher Martin, Chapter 1

This is a novel published in the United Kingdom in 1956. The novel mainly follows the state of mind of a sailor called Christopher "Pincher" Martin, a temporary naval lieutenant who is apparently desperately fighting for his life in the Atlantic after the military ship has sunk. Here, he is struggling in the sea.

In this part, I am wondering what "snarl" would mean in particular.
Would that mean "a tangle of hair"? Or perhaps, "a knot in wood"...? Or, "a noose"? Or... "display of the teeth accompanied by an angry sound"?
But those are just my guesses based on dictionary entries, and I couldn't find a meaning that fits into the context... :(

Also, would "fix oneself" would mean that the snarl itself has settled down, has found its position...?


I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear The Newt and proustian madeline,

    Thank you very much for the explanations!
    So "snarl" is a facial expression, and "fixed itself" would mean that the facial expression was fixed, set in place, settled.

    In that case, I wonder whether it would be okay to think that "snarl" has the following definition in the OED:

    An act of snarling; a display of the teeth accompanied by an angry sound. Frequently figurative.

    Can you provide a few sentences that came before this?
    Of course! Here are some more sentences right before the quote:

    “Help! Nathaniel! Help——!”
    And I gave the right orders too. If I’d done it ten seconds earlier I’d be a bloody hero—Hard a-starboard for Christ’s sake!
    Must have hit us bang under the bridge. And I gave the right order. And I get blown to buggery.
    The snarl fixed itself, worked on the wooden face till the upper lip was lifted and the chattering teeth bared. The little warmth of anger flushed blood back into the tops of the cheeks and behind the eyes. They opened.
    Then he was jerking and splashing and looking up.
     
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