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Hello everyone. I am reading a novel, and I came across this expression. Could you please let me know its meaning?


I wondered what kind of evil monster she turned into when her love died—did she tell you it was finished: Just let it go? Did she drop you back into the fish tank where you sank or swam, or did she release a few bubbles at a time and throw you tiny pellets of food as she did with Inky that night at the party, so you wouldn’t go belly-up, though you know and she knows it’s only a matter of time before they pick you up and flush you down where all fish souls end when they go back to the greater scheme of things? Was I making all this up, or was I myself gradually being put in a straitjacket before being dunked in a pickle jar as I looked up at the hole that was about to close on me?


- André Aciman, Eight White Nights, Third Night

This is a novel published in the United States of America in 2010. This novel is narrated by the nameless male protagonist who meets Clara at a Christmas party in Manhattan. Now the protagonist is thinking how Clara would turn into a monster after her love is over.


In this part, I wonder what the underlined expression means.

What would "greater scheme of things" mean? I vaguely guess it might be another way to say "heaven" or "afterlife", but I am not sure of its meaning... Thank you very much for your help.
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Curious Readerflush you down where all fish souls end when they go back to the greater scheme of things?

~ flush you down the toilet

Dead pet fish typically end up being flushed down the toilet.

'go back to the greater scheme of things' is a reference to the decay experienced by all dead things, the end result of which is that the elements they're made of are returned to the earth — and thus ultimately to the universe, I would suppose.

CJ

Comments  
Curious ReaderI vaguely guess it might be another way to say "heaven" or "afterlife"

Right. He's being deliberately awkwardly euphemistic.

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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.

Thank you very much for the explanations.

So "the greater scheme of things" euphemistically means the place where all the fish end up after being flushed down the toilet.

It would mean the abstract concept of heaven.


Then I guess it is not a fixed idiomatic expression, but an expression created by the author himself.

And "scheme" here may mean "system", to mean the greater system for all dead things, I guess.


And "go back" means that they had come from that system for all dead things, which is greater than this world.


I sincerely appreciate your help. Emotion: smile

Curious ReaderAnd "scheme" here may mean "system", to mean the greater system for all dead things, I guess.

Not for dead things, but for all things. It's like God's plan for the universe. "The scheme of things" is an expression. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/the%20scheme%20of%20things

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Thank you very much for the additional explanation.


So "scheme of things" is a fixed expression, but "greater scheme of things" here would be a variant of that fixed expression, I guess. Emotion: big smile

If "scheme of things" means "the general way things are organized and relate to each other", the "greater" scheme of things might mean the greater, bigger, enormous system in which things are organized... It would refer to the whole universe including this world and the afterlife, not just the afterlife.

I sincerely appreciate your help. Emotion: smile