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I'm using this for a title of short story. The title has to reflect the last line of the story, which is as follows:

A long, dark shadow cuts across the countless cubicles.

I've thought of "Cutting Across the Afternoon of Life"

  1. 'Afternoon' here represents the later years of life (wrt the riddle of the Sphinx)
  2. 'Cutting Across' used here in this context: (cut across) pass or traverse, especially so as to shorten one’s route. Ex: the following aircraft cut across to join him

But, I'm not sure if 'cutting across life' is grammatical. Any ideas?

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closed as too localized by Kris, MετάEd, Waggers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, RegDwigнt Apr 9 '13 at 9:00

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This isn't a question about grammaticality but about semantics. The phrase you're contemplating is perfectly grammatical. The real question is "Does this phrase say what I want it to say?" I see no problem with it, but I'd have to read the story to be certain. Therefore, I think this is not a real question or else it's too localized or else it should be asked on the SE Writers forum, not here. – user21497 Apr 8 '13 at 2:11
You didn't ask about the word countless (“Too many to count; innumerable or incalculable”), but please note that calling an enumerable set of cubicles countless is incorrect. – jwpat7 Apr 8 '13 at 4:53
Why do you suspect its grammaticality? There are several grammatical/ other errors in the question. – Kris Apr 8 '13 at 5:28
@jwpat7 Yes that's true, but it's more of a metaphorical thing here. – Soulz Apr 8 '13 at 7:56
@Kris In my question or in the sentence itself? I was confirming because I was not sure about the usage difference between 'across' and 'through'. – Soulz Apr 8 '13 at 7:57

Yes, the phrase you're contemplating is perfectly grammatical. The real question is "Does this phrase say what I want it to say?"

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Thanks. I was afraid 'across' couldn't be used with 'life'. And that 'through' would be more 'grammatical' here. That's why I asked the question here. – Soulz Apr 8 '13 at 2:20
@Soulz: The usage is metaphorical. You've made an analogy. Does it work? I think it does (in one way, at least), but I can't tell whether it works with your story. – user21497 Apr 8 '13 at 2:28
The OP has only asked if it was grammatical. Anything else is only a comment, not an answer. – Kris Apr 8 '13 at 5:29
@Kris: I made the same remark in a comment, didn't I? Sometimes people need to be told that they're not asking proper questions because they misunderstand the difference between grammar & semantics & writing mechanics. If I remember correctly -- I may not, or you may be a different "Kris" -- you described yourself as not very knowledgeable about linguistics & I replied that this was certainly true. I'm a teacher. I give the OP what I think the OP needs to know. You give your answers & I'll give mine, thank you. I don't need anyone to tell me what to say or not to say. – user21497 Apr 8 '13 at 7:21

Well cuts across indicates spanning. Because a shadow spans space, it can "cut across" a couple of objects. "Cutting" is spatial.

To cut in time ("Cutting across centuries") kind of makes sense, if you think of some prolonged phenomenon ("Shakespeare's work entertains, cutting across centuries"). But since life is lived at particular instants of time (ie the present), you can't really "cut across" life (unless you can time travel).

How about "Moving through the afternoon of life" or something similar?

  • Walking through the afternoon of life
  • Strolling through the afternoon of life
  • Running through the afternoon of life
  • Burning through the afternoon of life
  • Shining through the afternoon of life
  • Trotting through the afternoon of life
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Yes - there is at least a hint of a mixed metaphor in the OP. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 8 '13 at 7:48

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