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Moore makes you feel for him and, at the same time, she makes you want to push off the weight of Ira — all his exposed, sappy neediness — far away.

Source (emphasis mine)

I think this way.

It can be rewritten thus: "push the weight off of Ira" meaning "get rid of the weight from Ira."

To say "the weight of Ira" is "Ira's weight" is ungrammatical in my opinion. When "the" is involved, like this, it's normal to say "A's B"

So from this perspective, to interpret this "of" as possessive is wrong.

Am I right?

  • I'm not certain what it is you're saying. Certainly (1) of does not always denote possession: 'fear of spiders' does not mean 'spiders' fear' (usually). (2) Sometimes, the Saxon genitive sounds too colloquial, mundane (eg 'Valar's Wrath' v 'Wrath of the Valar' in Tolkien). I'm guessing that's why 'the weight of Ira' rather than 'Ira's weight' is used here. The fact that it's a figurative use of 'weight' shouldn't make a difference to the allowable constructions here. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '14 at 16:53
  • Is my interpretation impossible? That "of" is like "lop 20% off of the cost?" – user41481 Feb 28 '14 at 17:05
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No, these are two very different things:

push the weight off of Ira

Means there is a weight on Ira, and you want to push it off (saving Ira).

push off the weight of Ira

Ira weighs heavy on the subject, who wants to discard Ira (saving the subject).

To say "the weight of Ira" is "Ira's weight" is ungrammatical in my opinion. When "the" is involved, like this, it's normal to say "A's B"

It is not ungrammatical, it is a choice in sentence construction that can lend emphasis (in this case to weight). There is a novel (and movie) called The Unbearable Lightness of Being. "Being's Unbearable Lightness" just doesn't have the same cadence.

  • 3
    Nicely put. (And good analysis.) – Edwin Ashworth Feb 28 '14 at 17:33
  • And for that matter, the equivalent Ira's weight also doesn't have the same cadence, or the same sense of that weight that the author conveys by lingering on it that bit longer than the shorter Saxon genitive would. – Jon Hanna Feb 28 '14 at 18:34

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