How would you interpret this phrase “opened his mouth” in the context?
How would you interpret this phrase “opened his mouth” in the fourth sentence?
Does it mean they were not allowed to say anything?
Or does it mean they were not allowed to tell someone else the bad condition at the orphanage?
PS: the excerpt is taken from “Good Intentions” written by an Israeli author, Etgar Keret. And I’m reading an English translation.
I’d met Patrick Grace only once. It was at the orphanage in Atlanta. Like animals they treated us there. All year long, we wallowed in filth, they hardly fed us, and if anyone so much as opened his mouth, they let us have it with a belt. Lots of times they’d give you the belt without bothering to open the buckle. When Grace arrived, they made sure to get us cleaned up—us and that shit hole they called an orphanage. Before he came in, the director gave us a briefing: Anyone who blabbered would be in for it later. We’d all had our share of his medicine, enough to know he meant business. When Grace entered our rooms, we were silent as mice. He tried talking with us, but we didn’t really answer. Each boy got his present, said thank you, and hurried back into bed.