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What’s slapping what, on the qualification of the subject


The passage below comes from On Monosemy by Charles Ruhl.


[272] . . . a sandbagged main gate with a flagpole on it that slapped its frayed ropes in the scalding wind and never flew a flag. (John LeCarre)


I have two questions for this sentence.

First, what does the underlined that represent?

Does it refer to ‘a flagpole’?

Am I right?


Last and the foremost, if I am right in the 1st question, how can ‘the flagpoleslap its frayed ropes’. To my English sense that’s the other way around. It seems to me it makes better sense that ‘its frayed ropesslapthe flagpole’.

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[272] . . . a sandbagged main gate with a flagpole on it that slapped its frayed ropes in the scalding wind and never flew a flag. (John LeCarre)


I have two questions for this sentence.

First, what does the underlined that represent?

Does it refer to ‘a flagpole’?<<<<<<<< YES

Am I right?


Last and the foremost, if I am right in the 1st question, how can ‘the flagpoleslap its frayed ropes’. To my English sense that’s the other way around. It seems to me it makes better sense that ‘its frayed ropesslapthe flagpole’.

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The writer is personifying the flagpole, ie thinking of it as being like a living thing.

eg The man blinked his eyes.

eg The rabbit wiggled its ears.

eg The boiling kettle sang its song.

eg The flagpole slapped its ropes.

It's a literary device. It makes a more interesting sentence than just its frayed ropes slapped the flagpole.

Clive

Comments  

Thanks a lot as always, Clive.