Wesley Moyer’s with a whip in his hand

“Sophistication”, pp.147 “George felt so utterly lonely and dejected that he wanted to weep but pride made him walk rapidly along, swinging his arms. He came to Wesley Moyer’s livery barn and stopped in the shadows to listen to a group of men who talked of a race Wesley’s stallion, Tony Tip, had won at the Fair during the afternoon. A crowd had gathered in front of the barn and before the crowd walked Wesley, prancing up and down boasting. He held a whip in his hand and kept tapping the ground. Little puffs of dust arose in the lamplight. ‘Hell, quit your talking,’ Wesley exclaimed. ‘I wasn’t afraid, I knew I had ’em beat all the time. I wasn’t afraid.’

Ordinarily George Willard would have been intensely interested in the boasting of Moyer, the horseman. Now it made him angry. He turned and hurried away along the street. ‘Old windbag,’ he sputtered. ‘Why does he want to be bragging? Why don’t he shut up?’

*

Boasting comes up several times in this chapter and reminds of an interesting technique of Anderson’s in which a character and the omnicient narrator will use the same word in description of the same thing.

This isn’t exactly done here (where the narrator says “boasting” and the character says “bragging”) but check out “puttering” in The Untold Lie, where the narrator first says Ray Pearson is “puttering” then his wife scolds Ray for always “puttering”. The effect is a smoothing of the difference between reality (as it occurs in the fiction) and fictional characters’ perception of that reality; it tells us that the characters are seeing reality.


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