A has arrived at the conclusion that B’s ‘business’, which obviously does not include A, is carrying on with her secret relationship with C
53 For a mental space analysis of tense and mood see Fauconnier 1997, pp. 72-98. (His analysis of the perfect aspect is based on the work of J. Dinsmore.) Content can not be added to the Event space because it is not in focuspare: His former girlfriends turned into lesbians a few years ago. *His former girlfriends have turned into lesbians a few years ago.
In the last paragraph (sentence 20), when the second ‘scale peak’ occurs, “as if” sets up a Possibility space within the matrix. ] she looks at me each morning as if I were interrupting her life.”. The implied meaning is “she looks at me as if I were interrupting her life – but I don’t see it that way myself.”
The word ‘interrupt’ is an entrenched metaphor from the speech-act domain54 (where a person can interrupt Little People dating another person’s speech) and in this context (with this particular target55) we take it to mean that A somehow prevents B from fulfilling her ambition (according to B, according to A’s hypothesis). The speaker role is mapped onto ‘life’; the act of interrupting is mapped onto A’s preventive act; and the interrupting second speaker is mapped onto A. ‘Life’ is understood in a qualitative sense: B is annoyed with A’s presence which is seen as a hindrance to B’s happiness. On the informed reading, the meaning of “life” is reinterpreted: we realize that A actually intends to interrupt B’s life, in a very literal sense. Indeed she wants to interrupt this activity. The irony which arises from the ambiguity of the Possibility space [A interrupting B’s life] is between A and the reader: if B only knew how right she is! We are not explicitly informed that the explosion will have lethal consequences for B, but it is the intended and likely outcome. In any case, A will surely succeed in interrupting B’s habit of giving her disgruntled looks every morning. No ifs there.
A disagrees with the (hypothetical) intention ascribed to her by B: she does not, in general, see herself as a barrier to B’s ‘going about her business’
5.2 Themes The reading of a literary text is aided by the repeated occurrence of stable images or abstract meanings which serve as leads, or clues guiding the reader towards an understanding of the presented objects of attention, or reversely, they strengthen this understanding. A theme is most easily noticed when the instances of it are reiterated (just as an indexical trail of breadcrumbs is easier to detect and follow than a singular crumb). However, thematic clues do not always appear prolifically. A’s act of emptying the trash (sentence 4) is such a prophetic clue: A gets rid of the accumulated waste just as she gets rid of B and C. (By metaphoric analogy, B and C are disposable.) Three major themes present themselves in this text: birds, accumulation/release, and water/fire. 5.2.1 The bird theme 54 See Sweetser 1991, and P. Aa. Brandt (‘The Architechture of Semantic Domains’, forthcoming) 2000. 55 See Lakoff and Johnson 1980.
Birds were ascribed special significance in ancient Rome where augurs observed bird behavior and interpreted the typologically specified behavioral patterns as indicators of divine intentionality. Through the centuries birds have had a special status in various religious practices and secularized versions of augury. Birds as natural signs are manifest in Western folklore. They are traditionally viewed as valuable indicators of things to come. Things are what they seem and so much more. Both the HeC space and the HoC space are populated by birds: “a flock of geese” in the HeC space, and “birds” in the HoC space. The geese appear by the river shortly before B and C’s return to the city. The birds in the city are perceived by A right after her visit to C’s apartment.