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He might not have hit her at all (at least not to start with) Options
Maggie Q
Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 4:24:57 AM
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Joined: 5/15/2017
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Then he slapped her, and thinking pretty much ceased.

He didn’t get much into that first one, because he was still in the doorway and there wasn’t much room to swing; he could only draw his arm back to half-cock. He might not have hit her at all (at least not to start with) had she not been flashing a grin—God, those teeth, they’d given him the creeps even in grammar school—and if she hadn’t called him Junior.

Question: He might not have hit her at all (at least not to start with) == At least he might not have hit her at all to start with ( their interaction )? Does this make sense? If not, could you help me have it make sense? ( I'm just wondering what is omitted in the phrase of 'at least not to start with' --- at least _____ not ______ to start with ______)
thar
Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 4:38:54 AM

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He only hit her with limited force (half-cocked)


He would not have hit her at all (not even a little bit) if something had not caused him to do it.

What provoked him to hit her right then?

He might have done it later, for some other reason. But not to start with - not at the beginning.
FounDit
Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 10:51:15 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
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Maggie Q wrote:
Then he slapped her, and thinking pretty much ceased.

He didn’t get much into that first one, because he was still in the doorway and there wasn’t much room to swing; he could only draw his arm back to half-cock. He might not have hit her at all (at least not to start with) had she not been flashing a grin—God, those teeth, they’d given him the creeps even in grammar school—and if she hadn’t called him Junior.

Question: He might not have hit her at all (at least not to start with) == At least he might not have hit her at all to start with ( their interaction )? Does this make sense? If not, could you help me have it make sense? ( I'm just wondering what is omitted in the phrase of 'at least not to start with' --- at least that was not his intention to start with before he saw her grinning and calling him Junior.)


When she did that, it was then that he felt the impulse to slap her.

A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~ William James ~
NKM
Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 11:19:29 AM

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Location: Corinth, New York, United States
What is omitted is just what has already been said.

"At least he might not have hit her at all to start with."

philips daughter
Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 11:33:44 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/21/2017
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IMO, the author is offering an apology or a defense for the man. By saying “At least . . .” he is setting the mood. He hadn’t intentions of hitting her. Her hurtful actions and words were the cause. He had been pushed beyond his limits, and not he wanted to hit her. It is sympathetic to him.
Romany
Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 1:01:08 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

I guess that's one of the things that underlines the difference between written and spoken language - can't hear the intonation.

Because, to me, the "at least" doesn't sound the same way. (Which is what happens without reading the whole thing, I guess.)

To me it's more like "oh yeah. He's a nasty piece of work. He was always going to hit her - just not right away. So "at least" he hung fire for a little while."

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