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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?


After the movie I’d already resolved to head uptown, perhaps even walk past her home, especially now that I knew which side her windows faced. Walk uptown to replay and relive the scene uptown. Or was this all an excuse to stalk her building, her street, her world? Was I really the type who stalks buildings, windows, people? Follow her, spy on her, confront her? Aha, see! Or better yet, bump into her. Fancy running into you at this time of the night!


- André Aciman, Eight White Nights, Fifth 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. The protagonist is trying to walk around Clara's neighborhood in the hope of running into her.


In this part, I wonder what the underlined expressions mean.

I first thought "follow her..." is connected to "who stalks buildings", but then there is no "s" in the verb "follow/spy/confront", so I wonder how that sentence can be connected to the previous sentence, or if it stands alone, what that means.

And I also thought that "Aha, see!" is what he would say to Clara when he really bumps into her, just like he is likely to say "Fancy running into you at this time of the night!", but I am not sure what that means.


Thank you very much for your help.

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Curious ReaderI first thought "follow her..." is connected to "who stalks buildings", but then there is no "s" in the verb "follow/spy/confront", so I wonder how that sentence can be connected to the previous sentence, or if it stands alone, what that means.

They are all infinitives parallel with "to stalk" two sentences before. That is not very clear.

Curious ReaderAnd I also thought that "Aha, see!" is what he would say to Clara when he really bumps into her, just like he is likely to say "Fancy running into you at this time of the night!", but I am not sure what that means.

Only the "writer" knows. If it was supposed to be what he might say, it should have a question mark after it. It sounds like a non-native mistake to me.

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Thank you very much for the explanation.

So "follow/spy/confront" are infinitive verbs being in apposition with "stalk her building"! I wouldn't have noticed it by myself. Thank you for letting me know.


Also, if I may, I have a small question about the meaning of "Aha see" itself, because I just cannot grasp what it means...

If it was "Aha, see?" rather than "Aha, see!", what it would mean?

Would it perhaps be the sound the narrator might utter to her, "Voila, see? I meet you here!"? Or what the narrator might say to himself to mean "Aha, see, I have followed her and finally met her, are you satistied now"...?

Or would that be part of the narration rather than his possible words...? (Though these are just my guesses. Emotion: big smile)

Curious ReaderSo "follow/spy/confront" are infinitive verbs being in apposition with "stalk her building"!

No. It is not apposition, but I don't know what to call it. "Follow her, spy on her, confront her" is not a grammatically complete sentence, but it borrows what it needs from the other sentence, "was this an excuse to". It completes the previous sentence over again in an additional way. The first time the completion was "stalk her building, her street, her world", and this time it's "follow her, spy on her, confront her". That is the grammar of it, but it cleverly carries some of the force of the imperative on the page.

Curious ReaderOr would that be part of the narration rather than his possible words...?

It's a mystery to me, too. As I have said before, this non-native writer does not have good, fluent English, and he writes things that don't make sense to a native reader. This "Aha, see" is one such thing. I would just push past what I can't figure out like I used to do reading by flashlight under the covers when my mother thought I was asleep.

Thank you very much for the additional explanation.

Oh, so "follow/spy/confront" borrows the required grammar elements from "stalk", while also carrying the imperative nuance!


But indeed, this "Aha, see" is a mystery.

My best guess is that he is imagining two situations: (1) intentionally going to her house and "confronting" her (letting her know he intentionally came to see her, rather than arguing with/confronting her); and (2) making it look like he accidentally bumped into her.

As for the (1) situation, by "Aha, see!", he is probably talking to himself, as a part of the narrative, that "Aha, see, I can go to the extent of confronting her! I am surprised with myself", rather than talking to Clara "Aha, see!". But this is just my guess though... Emotion: big smile


I sincerely appreciate your help. Emotion: smile

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