In Jeffery Archer’s popular novel, “Kane & Abel,” there is a scene where William Kane, a brilliant student of St. Paul’s and one of two leading characters of this novel seduced by the wife of the school’s homemaster during her husband being out of home on trip for attending a conference.

When William reported Mrs. Raglan Rags, the homemaster’s wife that all the lights of the dorm were out and he had locked the front door, and bid ‘Good night,’ to her;

She swung her legs on to the ground, and a pale flash of stockinged thigh appeared momentarily from under the draped silk. “You are always in such a hurry. William. You can’t wait for your life to begin, can you?” She walked over to a side table. “Why don’t you stay and have some hot chocolate?”

Is the phrase, “You can’t wait for your life to begin,” a well-used pattern phrase, cliche, or just an ad hoc line invented for this situation? What does it mean?

If it is a pattern phrase, in what else cases can I use it for example?

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is a pattern phrase, if by that term you mean "Is 'You {can't/couldn't} wait for X, {can/could} you?' a pattern phrase?", where "X" is some particular event: e.g.,

You couldn't wait for your wife's body to cool in the grave before you started boffing a bunch of bimbos, could you?
You can't wait for your old man to die of old age to become king, can you? You have to murder him.

Waiting for "your life to begin" is just a fungible insert for the phrase. The speaker's talking to a schoolboy. School life isn't real life. Real life begins after graduation from school. OTOH, the school mistress is offering the boy an opportunity to begin his sex life right then and there. That's what she means by the line "for your life to begin".


There are two common patterns that use "can't wait".

One is of unseemly haste in something, and is accusatory.

The other is of general impatience and is neutral in itself. It's often used in the first person to express excitement: "I can't wait to see the new house" or "I can't wait until the film tonight" both express this excited impatience though they're both literally untrue (clearly, I'm going to have to wait).

This is the sense used here, "you can’t wait for your life to begin" means "you're full of excited impatience for when your [fully independent adult] life begins". The use of "life" to mean an adult life with a degree of independence and chance for accomplishment, is also common.

This is offered as a motive she sees in his being "always in such a hurray".

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