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the sling of my arm Options
vkhu
Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 10:15:47 AM
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Quote:
I picked up the hatchets and swung them by their heads from the sling of my arm;

-The Island of Doctor Moreau


This is very confusing. Normally, I would interpret this as the narrator swung his arm and threw the hatchets away. But this man had a broken arm, and it was put in a sling. Did he actually threw them, or just tug them inside the sling?
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 11:13:13 AM

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vkhu wrote:
Quote:
I picked up the hatchets and swung them by their heads from the sling of my arm;

-The Island of Doctor Moreau


This is very confusing. Normally, I would interpret this as the narrator swung his arm and threw the hatchets away. But this man had a broken arm, and it was put in a sling. Did he actually threw them, or just tug them inside the sling?


It does sound a bit awkward. I read it as having the hatchets tucked into his arm sling, and he removed them from there. I don't know how he could have picked up more than one from his sling, however.

At any rate, I would expect to read it more like this:
"I grabbed (or picked) up the hatchets from my sling, and swung them by their heads."


A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~ William James ~
NKM
Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 12:32:14 PM

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I would read it to mean that he hung the hatchets by their heads from his sling, letting their handles swing below.

FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 2:04:39 PM

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When I read it, I thought "by their heads" referred to the heads of other people, but after reading NKM's post, I think I had it wrong. His answer makes much more sense, and I think he is right.


A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~ William James ~
mactoria
Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017 4:45:22 AM
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Vkhu: Having read the actual passage this quote comes from (using the google books feature), it's very clear that the man/person talking is saying he put the hatchet (and a few other things) into his arm sling for the purposes of carrying. As you indicated, the man/person talking had hurt his arm and so had it in an arm "sling" which turned out to be useful to carry or store things in, especially since he only had one good arm left to use to carry things with.
Romany
Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017 12:22:03 PM
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Mactoria -

May I interject off-topic for just a moment? I saw you were a little confused about whether to put "man" or "person".

In Standard English we use "man" if we know it's a man (as we do here).
We use "woman" if we know it's a woman.
If we don't know what gender to assign (i.e. "the victim", "a bystander", "our teacher", "her doctor") we say "person".

For a man, as you know, we use "he/his"
For a woman we use "she/hers"
For a person we use "they/their
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017 7:43:58 PM

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I read it rather differently - it's a description of how the hatchets are stored.

They are 'swung by their heads'.

To swing something is to hang it so it can sway freely.

The way you store a hatchet is to put the front end of the head on something, so that the back end of the head sticks out and the handle swings down.


The axes above are 'swung by their heads from the shelf'.

The character swung the hatchets by their heads from his sling.

I have no idea why the author wrote 'sling of my arm' - it sort of sounds redundant.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
thar
Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017 8:25:08 PM

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My take:

Ignoring the broken arm for a minute, and just looking at that sentence -

The sling of my arm - my arm acting as a sling - not any cloth sling.
That removes the issue of redundancy.



His arm is broken, but is it stated it is in a sling? If he has only one working arm, then the only way to carry multiple hatchets is to use that arm, not his hands.

Frankly, trying to hang hatchets from a cloth sling around your arm seems certain to result in failure and possibly chopped-off toes! It is at the wrong angle. The working arm, on the other hand (if you pardon the expression) is very good at carrying stuff.

Surprisingly, this is one image that does not exist on the internet. So I have updated the story a bit.... Whistle



A sling is something non-rigid you hang things off. This seems to qualify.

Whistle

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