As you know, there is a phrase “have no shirt on his back,” which means having no money and basic necessities. Would you think I should apply the meaning to the following description?
"How many times do I have to tell you not to mention that unnaturalness under my roof?" he hissed, his face now a rich plum color. "You stand there, in the clothes Petunia and I have put on your ungrateful back ...."
"Only after Dudley finished with them," said Harry coldly, ... (p33, Harry Potter 4, US edition)
For your information, Harry has lived at his non-wizard uncle’s house since he lost his parents. Now, his uncle is speaking with an air of condescension. Dudley is his cousin, whose old clothes are always going to Harry.
I consulted some dictionaries, but there seems to be no such idiom as “put the clothes on your ~ back”.
And here are my questions;
- Is the speaker, Harry’s uncle, talking only about clothes, or saying “you live in comfort with basic needs for life”?
- Is Harry’s answer purely about clothes, or a part of the idiomatic meaning which he took it literally on purpose?
I’d be glad if you could help me!