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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: September 2009

The door-scraper in the Wild Wood: an informal lesson in frame metonymy


(From Chapter 3, The Wind in the Willows, 1908, by Kenneth Grahame)

[The Rat and the Mole are lost in the Wild Wood on a snowy night. As they are slogging through the snow, the Mole cuts his leg. The Rat, intrigued, tries to find the object that hurt the Mole]

Suddenly, the Rat cried “Hooray!” and then “Hooray-oo-ray-oo-ray-oo-ray!” and fell to executing a feeble jig in the snow.

“What have you found, Ratty?” asked the Mole, still nursing his leg.

“Come and see!” said the delighted Rat, as he jigged on.

The Mole hobbled up to the spot and had a good look.

“Well,” he said at last, slowly, “I see it right enough. Seen the same sort of thing before, lots of times. Familiar object, I call it. A door-scraper! Well, what of it? Why dance jigs round a door-scraper?”

“But don't you see what it means, you – you dull-witted animal?” cried the Rat impatiently.

“Of course I see what it means,” replied the Mole. “It simply means that some very careless and forgetful person has left his door-scraper lying about in the middle of the Wild Wood, just where it's sure to trip everybody up. Very thoughtless of him, I call it. When I get home I shall go and complain about it to – to somebody or other, see if I don't!”

“O dear! O dear!” cried the Rat, in despair at his obtuseness.

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Mental Spaces in Grammar
  • Online ISBN: 9780511486760
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