In the first chapter, Oliver asks for more, Oliver is moved to new poorhouse and there is a line which talks about a tall guy.

One tall boy, who had known better times, was heard to say that, unless he had another bowl of porridge each day, he might eat the boy, a very small one, who slept next to him"

What is meaning of the line ‘had known better times, was heard to say... porridge each day’?

  • 1
    "Had known better times" means that he had previously lived in a better (less Spartan) environment. – Hot Licks Sep 11 '15 at 17:58
  • Okay. 'Was heard to say' ? – Anbu Sep 11 '15 at 18:00
  • It means what it means. He said something and someone heard it. It's a fancy to say "he said". – Hot Licks Sep 11 '15 at 18:14

The tall fellow is in tough shape now (things were better for him before) and has threatened to eat the little boy next to him if he (the tall one) isn't allowed an additional bowl of porridge each day.

(The sentence isn't meant to imply that the tall fellow is really a cannibal, or even that he is about to become one, but only to show you just how very hungry and frustrated he is.)

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... who had known better times ...

The tall boy had better times before, meaning his current situation is not very good.

one bowl of porridge each day

one bowl of porridge a day / per day / everyday

He was heard to say that ...

Someone heard him say that... (It is an example of a passive voice.)

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  • 'Unless he had......' ? – Anbu Sep 11 '15 at 18:04
  • if he had not... – technophyle Sep 11 '15 at 18:05
  • Yeah got the meaning. Talk guy was saying if he doesnt get another bowl of porridge he would punish the small guy sleeping next to him – Anbu Sep 11 '15 at 18:18
  • that's right. if he doesn't get an extra bowl of porridge everyday, he would "eat the boy next to him" (just a joke) – technophyle Sep 11 '15 at 18:20

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