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Wu Ting
How would you interpret “that much” here? An assignation. First of the new year. Tommy’s attention seems to be wearing thin. Lying on his back blowing smoke rings, his eyes kept going to the window like a bird trapped indoors, wanting out. Rather than gazing upon the spectacle of me, sitting in the Morris chair all bundled up in my long knitted scarf. Mrs. Brown’s Christmas present. If I can keep her long enough I shall be warm as a lamb, head to toe. I thought of getting out last year’s gloves and putting those on too; the little room was freezing. Maybe I’m only imagining Tommy has gone cool. What do I know of hearts in winter? He’s tired, I know that much. And disappointed. No job in advertising yet, still a traveling salesman for Art, in Washington all last week before coming here. Something at the National Gallery.How would you interpret “that much” in the sentence “He’s tired, I know that much”? Does it mean I only know that? OR does it mean I know so much, i.e. I know very much? Thanks. And this excerpt is taken from The Lacuna by Kingsolver.How would you interpret the last sentence? What do you think the word “something” refers to? PS: Tommy was working for the National Gallery. Thanks. And this excerpt is taken from The Lacuna by Kingsolver.
Jun 6, 2015 6:37 AM
Answers · 6
It means 'I only know that'. He doesn't know everything about how Tom is feeling, but he does know that he is tired. 'I know that much' is a common expression used to say 'I'm no expert, but xxx is obvious, even with my limited knowledge of the subject.' It's sometimes inverted to 'That much I know'.
June 6, 2015
You got it right interpreting "that much" meaning "I only know that". A more literal way to read it is "That is as much as I know." The last sentence is confusing for myself, it might have more context in the following paragraph. But from what I can understand "something" refers to an unknown reason he's here. So the sentence might read literally like "The reason he came here is something at the the National Gallery". Hope this helps.
June 6, 2015
"I know that much" is more 'I know at least that'. 'Something' there means 'some sort of job'.
June 6, 2015
Wu Ting
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French
Learning Language