All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat.

English is my second language, my first language is Spanish.

I don't understand this sentence at all. Please explain.

  • 2
    This is a little tricky, because it is actually an example of a garden path sentence: when you encounter smashed it is natural to read that as the main verb, and it's only when you meet was that you have to go back and reanalyse it as a relative clause ("[that had been] smashed ... ").
    – Colin Fine
    May 20, 2014 at 19:14
  • 1
    VERY related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/14709/…
    – ghoppe
    May 20, 2014 at 19:21
  • @ghoppe: In fact, it is a dupe of that one.
    – Robusto
    May 21, 2014 at 0:58
  • @Robusto Yes, I wasn't confident enough to mark it so. Agree with the decision. :)
    – ghoppe
    May 21, 2014 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


Quite simply, the "scar" is referring to the line of demolished trees, the plane made, when it crashed.

Just to be clear, picture the plane crash-landing. For maybe 300 meters, it would make a sort of roadway, a strip of ripped-up jungle.

He's referring to that "thing" as a scar.

(That book is really boring, BTW :) And I find that particular sentence very badly-written. The "bath" wouldn't be "all around" you, the whole things a bit poorly-put together. he should have said "as the plane crashed it formed a scar in the jungle, twenty feet wide, a hundred feet long, and as tall as the trees. this scar, this hundred foot scar, as deep as the trees themselves, it was a bath of heat, and he was sitting in it. he realised he was sweating, he realised his mouth was open. he pictured himself as if from high, a tiny immobile human in the middle of this great gash in the skin of the forest. and then all the boys started killing him.")

  • 2
    I disagree that it's objectively badly-written. See english.stackexchange.com/questions/14709/…
    – ghoppe
    May 20, 2014 at 19:21
  • 2
    Hmm, everyone on that page says it's a little awkward. It's a very poorly thought-out sentence. WHAT is "all around him"? the scar? or the bath? if a bath, a bath is never "all around" you, you describe yourself as being "in" a bath. is the logic: "the long scar [which was all around him] was a bath of heat" or what? he's a bit of a shambolic writer usually and that sentence in particular! :)
    – Fattie
    May 20, 2014 at 19:27
  • 1
    "[E]veryone on that page says it's a little awkward" is not accurate. Especially not Robusto, who gave the accepted answer.
    – user63230
    May 21, 2014 at 0:37
  • @JoeBlow The scar was "all around" him. The scar was also a bath of heat. He could have written "it was bathed in heat" but then he would give external agency (the sun) to the heat. The metal wreckage, the broken glass, would all radiate heat. The sentence is evocative and jarring because of its construction. It's not a straightforward syntax, nor should it be, in my opinion.
    – ghoppe
    May 21, 2014 at 18:41
  • andy - you're quite right; sorry! (Everything Rob. says in that post is completely correct but ... does not at all apply to the sentence under consideration :) ) {And indeed, it's not an ellipsis; it's simply a sentence where you don't know which part is referring to which AND in BOTH cases the construction is wrong anyway (the "in" a bath issue, etc).} GHoppe - I was trying to construct a similar sentence to say "I respect your opinion, we'll have to disagree!" Heh! But then I've never coined a term like "Gaia" so I'm not as good s Golding at that sort of thing! Cheers men
    – Fattie
    May 22, 2014 at 6:30

"All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat."

long scar smashed into the jungle - This is probably referring to a pathway or opening in the trees that extends a long way. A river? A chasm?

bath of heat - Very hot. (Haca Calor ?sp?) He is comparing the temperature to the heat you feel when you submerge yourself quickly and suddenly into a large tub of steaming hot water.

If this does not help please provide page numbers.

  • Right - regarding "bath of heat" it just means, well, a "bath" of heat. You're "sitting in" heat, "trapped in" heat. "The cafe was like a bath of heat". (You sometimes hear "heat bath" as well.) A sauna is literally a heat bath. That's a relatively common expression in English.
    – Fattie
    May 20, 2014 at 19:10
  • FYI the scar is referring to the crash site: the boys crashed in an airplane. It's a "scar" because it is the violent destruction of the pristine jungle. The violent imagery foreshadows events to come.
    – ghoppe
    May 21, 2014 at 18:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.