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Posted by ESC on September 24, 2003

In Reply to: Stark in the sun - sentence dillema posted by GPP on September 24, 2003

: : : Hi! Here is the puzzle: "Amidst the midtown bustle, down the gray avenues of Manhattan, stark in the morning sun, Rupert approaches his office".

: : : Could someone please tell me to what part of the sentence the author refers when he says STARK IN THE MORNING SUN? Was it Rupert or gray avenues? Or alltogether :))

: : That's a tough one! The first phrases sounds like Ralph is in the midst of the bustle and going down the gray avenues. So I tend to think he is stark in the morning sun too. But it could be the streets that are stark. That sentence needs a rewrite.

: : And the other thing is, what does "stark" mean? If it means "barren" that would apply to the streets. But if it means "sharply delineated" that would be Ralph.

: : Main Entry: 1 stark
: : Pronunciation: 'stärk
: : Function: adjective
: : Etymology: Middle English, stiff, strong, from Old English stearc; akin to Old High German starc strong, Lithuanian starinti to stiffen -- more at STARE
: : Date: before 12th century
: : 1 a : rigid in or as if in death b : rigidly conforming (as to a pattern or doctrine) : ABSOLUTE stark discipline
: : 2 archaic : STRONG, ROBUST
: : 3 : UTTER, SHEER stark nonsense
: : 4 a : BARREN, DESOLATE b : having few or no ornaments : BARE : HARSH, BLUNT the stark realities of death
: : 5 : sharply delineated [a stark contrast]
: : - stark·ly adverb
: : - stark·ness noun

[a stark contrast]

: The sentence is open to interpretation, and I suspect the author meant it to carry a certain amount of ambiguity. The gray avenues of Manhattan are certainly not 'barren' amidst the midtown bustle. The image it conjures for me is the morning sun throwing the streets, avenues, buildings, sidewalks, crowds, etc, into a harsh and stark relief as Rupert approaches his office. Without any other context, I get the impression that Rupert is more accustomed to seeing the city in a softer light that impinges less starkly on his senses; that he's seeing more detail, more grayness, more grime, more bustle, than he would like.

I just noticed that I said "Ralph." Which makes the sentence even more confusing.