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'She was still in love with her husband; frequently she glanced at him with furtive wistfulness. She was able to enjoy the summer weather. She was not quite dead to the common phenomena of the roadside. But the last resistances of departing youthfulness and vivacity against the narcotic of a dull, unlovely domesticity were taking place. In a year or two she would be the typical matron of the Lower middle-class.'

A Man From the North, Arnold Bennett.

I can not understand what roadside means in this context. Roadside is defined as:

  • the strip of land along a road
  • the side of a road

but those don't seem to make sense in this context; the usage appears to be figurative, but figurative for what? Perhaps she is in the sunset of her youth, vigour?

  • Please keep it to one question per question "thread". If you want to ask what "dead to something" means, please ask it as a separate question. – AndyT Dec 21 '16 at 14:35
  • Did you look up roadside in a dictionary? Did you google it? What did you find? – Dan Bron Dec 21 '16 at 14:46
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    @DanBron - Not so obvious nor simple in this case. I looked it up myself, and found only the literal definition of "strip of land alongside beside a road." This does not fit the context, and whatever figurative meaning the author intended, I cannot fathom it, so no wonder the OP is asking. – cobaltduck Dec 21 '16 at 14:51
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    I would suggest that the answer lies primarily with the (linked question)[english.stackexchange.com/questions/364608/…, and that 'roadside' has it's normal meaning. Hence the sentence means "She was not quite oblivious to ... the roadside" that they were driving past (and possibly which she has seen numerous times previously) and/or to what is happening around her, but she is becoming increasingly withdrawn into herself by the "dull, unlovely domesticity" in which they live; i.e. she is becoming increasingly oblivious to her surroundings. – TrevorD Dec 21 '16 at 15:09
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    For now I'll take the answer from TrevorD. It is the one that best fits the question. Anyway, a thousand thanks to all who have answered the question. I remain open to possible suggestions. – Enrique DC Dec 21 '16 at 15:28
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The linked question What does "to be dead to {something}" mean? indicates that (in this context) "dead to" means "oblivious to". So the sentence in question effectively reads:

She was not quite oblivious to the common phenomena of the roadside.

Others have indicated that the two people are currently riding on an omnibus.

In these circumstances, I would suggest that 'roadside' has its normal meaning. Hence the sentence means:

"She was not quite oblivious to ... the roadside" that they were driving past (and possibly which she has seen numerous times previously) and/or to what is happening around her, but she is becoming increasingly withdrawn into herself by the "dull, unlovely domesticity" in which they live.

In other words, she is becoming increasingly oblivious to her surroundings, as a result of her domestic situation.

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I think, in this context, one can take roadside to be not-quite-literal. My sense in reading the entire paragraph is that the woman is indeed moving from youth to adulthood (as several people mentioned in the comments).

Here, I would argue that roadside means that she still feels the allure of the road, a wanderlust if you will, with its spontaneity and lack of caring for where the road goes.

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    The scene takes place in an omnibus, the narrator is describing the fact that Milly, whilst becoming dull and matronly, still pays attention to the things which can be seen from the window. – Spagirl Dec 21 '16 at 15:28
  • @Spagirl You are correct. I apparently had misinterpreted also. – Hank Dec 21 '16 at 15:38
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    Which is not to say that there isn't a metaphorical element to it also. :) – Spagirl Dec 21 '16 at 15:40
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    I do understand the confusion though. The omnibus is mentioned but I didn't make the pairing until I read a couple pages further in the story. They mention arriving at their destination, but I never read them explicitly get on the bus. >.< – Hank Dec 21 '16 at 15:41
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    Hmm, guess my answer isn't correct, but that downvote still hurts. Guess I should have kept quiet since I hadn't read the book. – TriskalJM Dec 21 '16 at 17:06

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