You can’t start altering the make-up of things

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover( page 265, chapter 13) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background:Clifford thought he should develop industry to feed workers, rather than gave away what he had, then Connie asked)

‘But the disparity?’ (by Connie)
‘That is fate. Why is the star Jupiter bigger than the star Neptune? You can’t start altering the make-up of things!’(by Clifford)

I understand make-up to be fate, even though in a Chinese version it's translated as formation. And it seems to me that it's better if we say: you
can't alter the make-up of things.
Is that right please?
THANK YOU in advance
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    The "make up" of something is its physical description: what material is made of, how it is shaped, what it looks like.

    Clifford says you cannot change things: you cannot change a monkey into a dog, a tree into a cloud, Jupiter into Neptune.

    By adding "start" he implies that, in the current conversation, she is starting to try to do this.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Clifford thought he should develop industry to feed workers, rather than gave away what he had, then Connie asked

    Connie: ‘But the disparity?’ = but why is there so much difference between what you have and what the workers have?

    Sir Clifford: ‘That is fate. [= That is the way things are; that is how life and human society is arranged] (It is pointless to ask) Why is the star Jupiter bigger than the star Neptune? You can’t start altering the make-up of things!’ (You cannot change things like this.)

    Sir Clifford is shown to be very conservative and unquestioning of his position in life and the position in life of his workers. He thinks that there is some unwritten law of nature that causes him to be rich and workers to be poor.

    Sir Clifford reflects a view that was very popular in England at the time - God ordained who shall be rich and who shall be poor and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
     
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