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I could not bring myself to do that Options
vil
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 6:45:51 AM
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Joined: 9/8/2010
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Location: Bulgaria
Would you be kind enough to give me your considered opinion concerning the interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

I wished it would come back, - but my memory was a blank. He wise way would have been to frankly own up, but I could not bring myself to do that, after the young girl had praised me so for recognizing her. (Mark Twain, “A Tramp Abroad”)

I could not bring myself to do that = I didn’t have the courage to do that

V.
MrH
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 7:05:55 AM
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Joined: 6/25/2011
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Location: United States
It's a great phrase, once dissected, yet it sounds a bit low-brow at the same time.

At any rate, the speaker lacked the ability to force his self to be forthright.

Perhaps there is also a hint of regret there.


Force

vb (tr)

1. to compel or cause (a person, group, etc.) to do something through effort, superior strength, etc.; coerce


surrealisticmystic
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 7:19:21 PM
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Joined: 8/4/2011
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Location: Florida, U.S.
vil wrote:

I wished it would come back, - but my memory was a blank. He wise way would have been to frankly own up, but I could not bring myself to do that, after the young girl had praised me so for recognizing her. (Mark Twain, “A Tramp Abroad”)

I could not bring myself to do that = I didn’t have the courage to do that

V.



I haven't read this entire piece, so I don't know the context, but it seems as if the speaker was given appreciation or a compliment (by the young girl) for recognizing her, even though he really could not remember who she was.

In this passage, "I could not bring myself to do that" doesn't necessarily mean he didn't have the courage, but rather, he didn't want to hurt her feelings by admitting that he truly can not remember who she is.
Though, I suppose it does take courage to hurt someone's feelings on purpose, especially if you're telling the truth about something you've already lied about.

Another expression is, "I didn't have the heart to tell her the truth."
Christine
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 10:56:08 PM
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surrealisticmystic
Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011 1:01:41 AM
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Joined: 8/4/2011
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Location: Florida, U.S.
Ha! Wonderful! Thank you for sharing Christine! :-)

IMcRout
Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011 3:25:38 AM
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Joined: 5/27/2011
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Location: Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
On behalf of kitten I would like to thank mtwain.com for providing this information Applause
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