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I am from China. I tries to read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I met a question in a sentence. The sentence is in the paragraph below.

Being Southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings. All we had was Simon Finch, a fur-trapping apothecary from Cornwall whose piety was exceeded only by his stinginess. In England, Simon was irritated by the persecution of those who called themselves Methodists at the hands of their more liberal brethren, and as Simon called himself a Methodist, he worked his way across the Atlantic to Philadelphia, thence to Jamaica, thence to Mobile, and up the Saint Stephens. Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling, Simon made a pile practicing medicine, but in this pursuit he was unhappy lest he be tempted into doing what he knew was not for the glory of God, as the putting on of gold and costly apparel. So Simon, having forgotten his teacher’s dictum on the possession of human chattels, bought three slaves and with their aid established a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River some forty miles above Saint Stephens. He returned to Saint Stephens only once, to find a wife, and with her established a line that ran high to daughters. Simon lived to an impressive age and died rich.

The sentence is "Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling, Simon made a pile practicing medicine, but in this pursuit he was unhappy lest he be tempted into doing what he knew was not for the glory of God, as the putting on of gold and costly apparel".

Does "Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling" mean "Simon was aware that John Wesley very harshly criticized using many words to describe purchases and sales in the writing"?

Does "the putting on of gold and costly apparel" mean "Simon dressed himself in gold and expensive clothes "?

Does the word "as" in "as the putting on of gold and costly apparel" have the same meaning as the word "as" in the sentence "A flat stone was used as a table"?

http://www.penfield.edu/webpages/jgarbarino/files/to_kill_a_mockingbird_text.pdf

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Does "Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling" mean "Simon was aware that John Wesley very harshly criticized using many words to describe purchases and sales in the writing"?

No. It means Simon understood John Wesley's criticism of some practices of commerce, namely, using "too many words" (I would probably interpret this as being too pushy, desperate to make the sale), and he practiced control of his behavior whenever he was selling to his customers, so as to remain an upright and just salesman. And this is attributed to his success, because his customers liked him better for it.

Does "the putting on of gold and costly apparel" mean "Simon dressed himself in gold and expensive clothes "?

Unclear what you mean... The statement "putting on of gold and costly apparel" does mean "dressing in jewelry and expensive clothing", but it doesn't say that Simon did this. It says the opposite, that he fought the temptation because he didn't want to do anything that wouldn't glorify God.

Does the word "as" in "as the putting on of gold and costly apparel" have the same meaning as the word "as" in the sentence "A flat stone was used as a table"?

Yes, but in your comparison, the stone was used as a table, whereas in the complete sentence from To Kill A Mockingbird, the 'as' is connecting to "not for the glory of God". It's completing the thought of what Simon saw as behavior that should not be done, behavior that should be resisted; so he did not do this. Grammatically, the 'as' is performing the same function.

  • Hello Dear Mr. Ward, thank you very much for your help. I really appreciate it. Does the word " as " in " as the putting on of gold and costly apparel " have the same meaning as the word " like " in the sentence " The neglect that large cities like New York have received over the past 12 years is tremendous "? – Li Xiaodong Jan 23 '16 at 7:43
  • collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-cobuild-learners/like Thank you so much for your help again. – Li Xiaodong Jan 23 '16 at 8:21
  • Dear Mr. Ward, does " Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling " mean " Simon was aware that John Wesley criticized merchants for using too many words to persuade customers to buy the commodities. Thank you so much for your help again. – Li Xiaodong Jan 23 '16 at 9:09
  • Hello @LiXiaodong, for your question about 'strictures', yes, that's what that means. Regarding 'like' and 'as', not exactly correct... In the phrase "large cities like New York", the 'like' means similar to, but necessarily that thing itself. (Although in this case, I believe they probably meant to say "large cities such as New York", but without the fuller context I can't say for sure.) But all in all, a parallel concept. They are both similes. – Tim Ward Jan 24 '16 at 18:08
  • @LiXiaodong, you might want to review this site: grammar-monster.com/glossary/simile.htm – Tim Ward Jan 24 '16 at 18:09
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There's three issues here, complex sentence structure, a use of ornate, Biblically inspired language, and some playful, allusive indirection, all of which are distinctively typical of the educated Southern American mode of speaking and writing. It also helps to know that John Wesley was the founder of Methodism, a Christian Protestant denomination founded in England, but influential in America.

Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling, Simon made a pile practicing medicine...

Simon --being consciously aware of John Wesley's prohibition on talking too much while conducting business dealings --became rich practicing medicine instead...

The joke here is that Simon interpreted narrowly a statement of John Wesley's that was probably meant as general advice against being too concerned with the pursuit of money.

...but in this pursuit he was unhappy lest he be tempted into doing what he knew was not for the glory of God, as the putting on of gold and costly apparel.

...but he wasn't happy being a rich doctor, because it tempted him to become worldly and extravagant.

This second part of the sentence isn't as hard to parse, but it makes some allusions. "Gold and costly apparel" is a quote from a John Wesley sermon, which in turn alludes to a passage from 1 Timothy 2:9 (The Bible, New Testament) that warns against taking too much pride in your clothing and appearance.

  • I'm interested in your statement about her writing being indicative of the educated Southern American style. What do you mean by that? As I mentioned above, her writing just seems like a rip off of Faulkner. Was it he who started the whole Southern Educated thing? Is it because of pretentiousness, or Biblical allusions? – michael_timofeev Jan 23 '16 at 2:15
  • @michael_timofeev I doubt it began with Faulkner --that's just how people actually talk down there. The playful love of language games is probably a legacy of Scotch and Irish ancestors. The African-American influence adds lush imagery and emotional intensity. The strong Old Testament Christian influence brings in the Biblical allusions. All of that is the common inheritance of all Southerners. At that point, the educated part just cleans up the grammar and upgrades the vocabulary. – Chris Sunami Jan 25 '16 at 14:23
  • Hello Dear Mr. Sunami, thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it. – Li Xiaodong Jan 25 '16 at 15:14
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First question ("Mindful of John Wesley’s strictures...") - Yes. 'Stricture' is another way of saying 'strictness' (OED). See comments below your question for discussion of Wesley's views about buying and selling.

Second question ("...the putting on of gold and costly apparel...") - Yes (i.e. indulging expensive tastes).

Third question - Yes. '...as...' means 'like', 'such as', 'for example'.

  • Hello Dear Sir, thank you very much for your help. I really appreciate it. – Li Xiaodong Jan 23 '16 at 9:26
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I think in this context strictures is used in the sense of religious prohibitions. Strictures do tend to amount to strict rules. John Wesley was the founder of Methodist Protestantism.

  • John Wesley remained an Anglican all his life. He didn't consciously found anything. But, with his brother Charles, he is now credited with having founded the evangelical movement, which became nicknamed Methodism. He certainly didn't found Protestantism. That pre-dated him by at least 200 years. – WS2 Jan 22 '16 at 17:55
  • Hello Dear Mr. Hoogland, thank you very much for your help. I really appreciate it. – Li Xiaodong Jan 23 '16 at 9:27
  • The wording is clear that I meant Methodist Protestantism. Methodism qualifies Protestantism here. An even better choice of words would have been "helped found the Protestant evangelical movement which became known as Methodism." There is no dispute that he remained an Anglican, and my claim is that he founded a movement which I called in shorthand Methodist Protestantism. His own reluctance to claim the mantle of founder is not determinative here. – Eric S. Hoogland Jan 25 '16 at 18:14

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