An Integrated English Course Book 4 Unit Nine The Discus Thrower
General understanding of Text I • What do you know about the author? • How do you understand the title? Who does “the discus thrower” refer to? An athlete? • Who does “I” refer to? • What’s the text about? What’s the purpose of writing? • What type of writing is the text? • How many parts can the text be divided into? Could you give a headline to each of these parts?
About the author: Richard Selzer • A professor of Yale Medical School • He writes short stories and essays which portray with sympathy but without sentimentality the dramatic, sometimes agonizing, experiences of practicing surgeons.
The title: The Discus Thrower A discus is a heavy circular object which athletes try to throw as far as they can as a sport.
Purpose of writing • (p. 136) • To reveal why the patient throws his plate.
Type of writing • narration • 5 Ws of the story • Who • When • Where • What • Why
Three parts • Part I (Paragraph 1): beginning --serves as an introduction to the background of the story. • Part II (Paragraphs 2-13): development --presents the author’s meeting with the particular patient dubbed the discus thrower, his conflict with the head nurse and a detailed portrayal of how the patient “throws the discus”. • Part III (Paragraphs 14-15): ending--tells of the patient’s death.
Suggested headlines • Part I: Spying on Patients: a Habit of Mine; • Part II: Encounters with a Particular Patient; • Part III: The Death of the Patient.
Part I: introduction • Spying on Patients: a Habit of Mine • In this part the narrator tells about one of his unique habits and justifies himself for it. • Q1: What’s the doctor’s unique habit? • Q2: How does the narrator justify his act?
Language work • 1. ... that he might the more fully assemble evidence? ... he might gather evidence more fully than without spying? • A rhetorical question • The structure “the more fully” is the elliptical form of “all the more fully”. In English the structure “all / so much / none + the + the comparative degree of adjectives or adverbs” is used without “than ...” following it to express emphasis. Sometimes all can be omitted. • She was waiting for the spring. She felt the younger for it. • I walked around for two hours yesterday, and the doctor said I was none the worse for it. 依然如故 • I know there’s danger ahead, but I’m all the more set on driving forward.
doorway • 1. 出入口,门口,门道 • They stood in the doorway chatting.他们站在门口闲聊。 • 2. 【喻】途径,门路 • Exercise is a doorway to good health. 锻炼乃通向健康之门。
Compare: gaze, stare, gape, glare, peer, peep, ogle • These verbs all mean to look long and intently. • Gaze refers to prolonged looking that is often indicative of wonder, fascination, awe, or admiration : 盯；凝视 • to gaze at the moon; to gaze into his eyes • To stare is to gaze fixedly; the word can indicate curiosity, boldness, insolence, or stupidity: 凝视 • The old couple stared at them in disbelief; • to stare into the distance
Gape suggests a prolonged open-mouthed look reflecting amazement, awe, or lack of intelligence: 张口结舌地看；瞠目结舌 • Tourists are gaping at the sights. • To glare is to fix another with a hard, piercing stare:怒目而视 • She glared furiously at him when he contradicted her.
To peer is to look narrowly, searchingly, and seemingly with difficulty:凝视；窥视 • He peered through his spectacles at the contract. • To peep is to look quickly and slyly or cautiously (at sth) 匆匆地（且诡秘地或小心地）看; 偷看; 窥视 • The spy was caught peeping through the keyhole. • To ogle is to stare in an amorous （多情的；色情的）, usually impertinent (improper) manner:媚眼, 送秋波, 眉目传情 • She resented the way that the construction workers on their lunch hour ogled passing women.
not all that • =not very [infml] 不那么... • I'm not all that keen on baseball. 我根本就不喜欢棒球。 • I'm notallthat optimistic we will defeat them.我对我们能否打败他们不那么乐观。 • God is not all that exists; God is all that does not exist.上帝并非所有一切存在的事物，而是所有一切不存在的事物。
furtive • --attempting to avoid notice or attention; secretive • I saw him cast a furtive glance at the woman at the table to his right. • The man's furtive manner made the policeman follow him. • 这人鬼鬼祟祟的举止引得警察跟踪了他。
Questions for discussion • What is unique about the narrator as a doctor? • What does the narrator mean by asking the question “Ought not a doctor ... assemble evidence?” • Why does the narrator say “it is not all that furtive an act”?
1. What is unique about the narrator as a doctor? • As a doctor he spies on his patients.
2.What does the narrator mean by asking the question “Ought not a doctor ... assemble evidence?” • The quoted sentence is not a real question. The narrator poses this pseudo-question to argue that he believes a doctor is entitled to spy on his patients for the sake of medical treatment.
3.Why does the narrator say “it is not all that furtive an act”? • Because he wants to justify his action: he does not actually spy but rather observes his patients.
Part II (Paragraphs 2-13) • Encounters with a Particular Patient • This part talks about the narrator’s contact with “the discus thrower”. The miserable condition of the patient is described and the reason for his discus throwing is implied.
Paragraph 2 • What do we know about this particular patient? His physical appearance? His health condition, physically and mentally? • What rhetorical devices are used in Paragraph 2?
Language work • 3. It is rusted, rather, in the last stage of containing the vile repose within.: • -- Rather, his skin gets dark brown because he was approaching the last stage of his life, that is, he was dying. The “vile repose” metaphorically means “death”.
euphemism • -- a mild, indirect, inoffensive expression that is substituted for one that is considered harsh, offensive, unpleasant, blunt • Death, Illness, Old age • Pass away; depart; go the sleep, go to heaven • Feeling one’s age, second childhood/ senior citizens • Toilet habits • Go to the bathroom; answer nature’s call; W. C.; the powder room; Ladies’; Gent’s • Poverty and unemployment • Pink slip; out of pocket; in (financial) difficulties; the underprivileged; the disadvantaged
4. And the blue eyes are frosted, looking inward like the windows of a snowbound cottage. • And (under scrutiny) the blue eyes are not clear but covered with a gray frost-like layer, without looking outside at the external world like the windows of a snow-surrounded (blocked) cottage. • frosted : covered with frost or something like frost • a frosted window; frosted blue eyes • The birthday cake was frosted.生日蛋糕上加了糖霜。
…a bonsai, roots and branches pruned into the dwarfed facsimile of a great tree.
Paragraph 2- questions for discussion 1) Why does the man seem deeply tanned? 2) Why does the narrator compare the patient to a bonsai?
1) Why does the man seem deeply tanned? • His skin is brown not because of the suntan but because of his approaching death, i. e. he was in the last stage of his life.
2) Why does the narrator compare the patient to a bonsai? • A bonsai is an ornamental tree or shrub grown in a pot and artificially prevented from reaching its normal size. The patient resembles a bonsai in several ways. • His confinement caused by blindness is like the restricted growth domain of a bonsai: the domain permitted by a pot. • He is legless in the way the roots and branches of the miniature tree are pruned.
5. ... he cups his right thigh in both hands. -- he holds his right thigh with his hands curved like a cup. • cup: support or hold something with the hands that are curved like a cup • He cupped her chin in the palm of his hand. • David knelt, cupped his hands and splashed river water onto his face.
dwell • ~ in, at, etc . . . (arch or rhet 古或修辞) live as an inhabitant of or reside at (a place) 住; 居住 • (phr v) dwell on/upon sth think, speak or write at length about sth 细想某事; 详述某事: • Let's not dwell on your past mistakes. 我们不要再细说你过去的错误了. • dweller n (尤用以构成复合名词) person or animal living in the place specified 住在某处的人或动物: • `town-dwellers * `flat-dwellers * `cave-dwellers • dwelling n (fml文) place of residence; house, flat, etc 住处; 住宅; 公寓: • my humble dwelling寒舍
swing • - move something from one side to the other • A large pendulum swung back and forth inside the grandfather clock. • The truck driver swung himself up into the driver’s seat. • His mood swings between elation and despair.
Para. 3-5 Questions for discussion 3) Why is the patient’s ward empty of all possessions? 4) When the doctor asks how he feels, he responds with a question “Feel?” What does this show? 5) What does the patient mean when he says “Yes, down”?
3) Why is the patient’s ward empty of all possessions? • Because there is none of the usual possessions like get-well cards, private caches of food, flowers, and so on, which shows that he is forsaken (abandoned) by his friends and family. • As stated in the following part, he is intolerable. And there aren’t possessions such as shoes, either, for he is legless and blind, and thus is confined to bed.
4) When the doctor asks how he feels, he responds with a question “Feel?” What does this show? • This shows he is numb in emotion. His plight (unfortunate situation) throws him into despair and he hopes for nothing, waiting for death. This is also confirmed by the fact that he wants to know nothing but time.
5) What does the patient mean when he says “Yes, down”? • This is his response to the doctor’s remark, “Down you go. “ What the doctor means is that the man is going down with the bed, yet the patient means that he is going down towards death. • Paraphrase: “Yes, I am going down,” he says, meaning literally that he is going down with the bed but intentionally that his physical condition is going from bad to worse.
(7) He lies solid and inert. In spite of… Paraphrase: He lies in bed without any motion or any reaction. /He is motionless. From any point of view, he gave deep impression to me, because he appeared to be a sailor standing across a sloping deck.
No wonder… • 难怪；不足为奇 • It is no wonder (that) he'll sign the contract tomorrow. 他明天签约是不足为怪的。 • No wonder people say that computers are taking over the world. • 难怪有人说电子计算机正渐渐接管世界。 • No wonder he is not hungry. He has been eating sweets all day.
not…any more than • 和…一样都不 • A whale is not a fish any more than a horse is. • No +形容词/副词比较级+than-分句 • Mary is no wiser than Jane.玛丽和简一样不聪明。Cf. Mary is not wiser than Jane. • He is no more able to read Chinese than I am. 他看不懂中文，我也看不懂中文。 • He is no more a writer than a painter. 既非…也非 • She is not less beautiful than her sister. 她的美不亚于Cf. She is no less beautiful than her sister. …一样 • He was more of a poet than a king. 与其说…不如说…
Para. 6-7 Questions for discussion 6) Why does the man ask for a pair of shoes? 7) Why is the head nurse waiting for the doctor? 8) What is the head nurse’s attitude toward the patient? 9) What is the doctor’s attitude?
6) Why does the man ask for a pair of shoes? • The man knows he is legless and has no need for a pair of shoes. Yet he still asks for a pair of shoes when the doctor offers him help. This shows that at the bottom of his heart the man aspires after freedom; only a pair of shoes can give him freedom.
7) Why is the head nurse waiting for the doctor? • Because she is waiting for the doctor to suggest measures to deal with the patient, who throws the food plate against the wall every time it is brought to him.
8) What is the head nurse’s attitude toward the patient? • Irritated by his behavior, she is impatient and disgusted with him.
9) What is the doctor’s attitude? • The doctor does not agree to take immediate measures. He wants first to make sure of the fact described by the nurse.
Paragraph 8 • probe:探测，调查 -- physically explore or examine (something) with the hands or an instrument; investigate • They probed in/into the mud with a special drill, looking for a long-buried shipwreck. • Detectives questioned him for hours, probing for any inconsistencies in his story. • The official enquiry will probe into alleged corruption within the Defense Ministry.
heft: -- lift or hold (something) in order to test its weight • I hefted a suitcase in my hands. • He hefted his bagintothe car. (lift sth heavy)
(11) It is a sound you have never heard. It is something new under the sun… • Paraphrase: The wild, relaxed laughter is a totally new sound in the world that nobody has ever heard. The joyful laughter could even give a promising future to cancer patients.
(12) She looks over at me shaking her head and making her mouth go. • The aide looks across at me, shaking her head to express her helplessness and making a facial signal to show her dissatisfaction with the patient. • 9. I see that we are to be accomplices. -- I see that I have to help the aide feed the patient.
Para. 8-13 Questions for discussion 10) Why does the patient lift the cover and probe the eggs before throwing the plate? 11) Why does he laugh? 12) Why does the narrator say the laughter could cure cancer? 13) Why do the eyes of the head nurse narrow? 14) Does it mean that the patient cannot recognize the doctor’s voice when he asks, “Who are you?”