tipped scales, removed lids, cracked covers

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NoLight

New Member
polski
Hello everyone!

While reading Toni Morrison's Tar Baby I've come across a few phrases I can't quite cope with. I've put the excerpt below, with these phrases in bold. Now, I know the overall meaning: black women in N.Y.C. are free to realize themselves in whatever field they choose, with no stereotype getting in their way. The question is: how would you paraphrase the phrases in bold:
"They refused loans at Household Finance, withheld unemployment checks and drivers’ licenses, issued parking tickets and summonses. ... energized parties, redefined fashion, tipped scales, removed lids, cracked covers and..."

Any hints will do:)
Thanks!
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    You would do well to wait for an AE speaker but:

    tipped scales, = brought persuasive pressure to bear on certain influential persons

    removed lids, = exposed things that people had tried to hide

    cracked covers - opened up things to public view that were not what they were supposed to be; disguised; hidden; and/or a façade,
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Looking at the full passage on Amazon, I think one or all of these could actually be literal as well.
    tipped scales - caused scales to read incorrectly (especially to overcharge someone)
    removed lids, cracked covers - opened things they probably shouldn't have opened - perhaps they're sampling things at the grocery store, eating out of the bulk bins, etc.

    The literal meaning of "tipped scales" fits particularly well with the other "mean" things they are doing at the various jobs that are mentioned.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    If the meanings are literal, removed lids, cracked covers may refer to removing or damaging man-hole covers.

    The items early in the list (refused, withheld, issued) seem like civil-disobedience actions (or possibly actions taken to influence individuals, such as delinquent fathers and absentee landlords) done by people working in clerical positions.

    The middle actions (energized, redefined) seem like positive social actions.

    ...which leaves the final three (and missing fourth) still a puzzle.

    EDIT:(Just read the whole paragraph - these three are still a mystery; the fourth doesn't help.)
     
    Last edited:

    NoLight

    New Member
    polski
    Thanks a lot for these posts. Some of them are closer to, some more distant from, what I originally figured out, they all are very helpful.

    ...which leaves the final three (and missing fourth) still a puzzle.
    Dear Pete, the fourth action from the catalogue is as follows:

    "...cracked covers and turned an entire telephone company into such a diamondhead of hostility the company paid you for not talking to their operators."
    I left this one out for the sake of clarity and brevity. Still, you're quite right that it may be helpful to have the phrases in the whole context.


    Anyway, feel free to add more clues
    :)
     
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