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justina bandol
Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017 1:40:56 AM
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Martin huffed through his explanation, washing his sweaty gray hair from his face as he spoke.

What kind of movement is he making with his hair? Is he using his hand or is just a sweep of the head?
nebra
Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017 4:12:59 AM

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"Washing" doesn't make sense here. Is it a typo? Maybe it should be "pushing" (with his hand).

My replies to grammar questions are based on American English (AE), of which I'm a native speaker.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017 4:41:34 AM

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The quote seems to be from The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, 2016 (the last paragraph on that page).

I can't understand washing here either. The book won the 2016 National Book Award and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
mactoria
Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017 6:15:58 AM
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Thanks to Jyrkka for the link; I was able to read a page before and after the quoted line, which didn't really help explain why the author used "washing his sweaty gray hair." Like Rroselavy, I'm guessing "washing" is substituted for 'pushing' or perhaps 'wiping,' as Martin apparently worked up quite a sweat moving the pile of debris for Cora to get out, and so his hair must have been soggy with sweat, needing to be 'wiped' from his forehead.
justina bandol
Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017 7:47:19 AM
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Joined: 12/29/2013
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Location: Bucharest, Bucuresti, Romania
I see. It surely is Whitehead. I'm almost done with it, thank Heaven.

Thank all of you, mostly.
Romany
Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017 2:03:02 PM
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I saw it just as another way of saying: "His face was wet with sweat. Every time his (grey) hair was blown/fell on his forehead it got drowned in sweat and stuck to his face. So every time he pushed it back off his face it got dragged through the wetness even more. It was like he was washing his hair in it."

Only that his way of saying it was far more concise and far more elegant?


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