-1

What does "a threat of red ink at the bank" in the following context mean?

A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet.

Context: Thinking Like a Mountain By Aldo Leopold

I know the meaning of "red ink". But in this context, it seems to me there is a metaphorical meaning to the bold part. Isn't it? Also, the meaning of "bank" here is confusing: is it something related to money or to land? The second is what first comes to mind because the text is about land and ecology.

I think the text is tricky. The writer is talking about land and environment thereby he tries to say what he intends to say through expressions which have a taste of environment. For example the "red line at the bank" seems to bring to mind the blood of cows killed by the wolf.

Also notice the meaning of "bank" in the context. If you take "bank" here to mean "the financial establishment", you cannot reject that it has at least a hint to the second meaning of "the land alongside or sloping down to a river or lake." Those who put the question on hold seem not to consider how delicate the text is.

2 paragraphs later in the text we read: "When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf." Here "bank" is used in the second sense. So, I say, the main thing the writer intend to say is, of course, that the sense the howl has for the cowman is losing money; but the writer at the same time wants to refer us to the cause of that money loosing, which is cows being killed by the wolf on the bank leaving red ink (blood).

closed as off-topic by Hot Licks, NVZ, pyobum, Dan Bron, jimm101 Jan 18 '17 at 17:12

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Look up red ink in a dictionary. – michael.hor257k Jan 18 '17 at 0:24
  • 1
    This might be better-suited to our sister site for English Language Learners. – choster Jan 18 '17 at 0:35
  • 1
    So, what is causing the threat??? – Hot Licks Jan 18 '17 at 1:40
  • 1
    And what does that represent to the cowman? – Hot Licks Jan 18 '17 at 1:53
  • 1
    I don't think "bank" here is just metaphorical to his livelihood, or stock, or earnings. It's a bit over-written, so it's hard to tell. – jimm101 Jan 18 '17 at 14:19
4

I think you're trying to assign it deeper meaning, while it's pretty straight forward.

The fragment you quote refers to the meaning of hearing wolves' howl. To the cattle rancher it means potentially losing cattle, thus putting him in financial trouble (red ink in the bank — negative balance in the bank account).

  • I still think the text is tricky. The writer is talking about land and environment thereby he tries to say what he intends to say through expressions which have a taste of environment. For example the "red line at the bank" seems to bring to mind the blood of cows killed by the wolf. – Sasan Jan 18 '17 at 20:25
  • Also notice the meaning of "bank" in the context. If you take "bank" here to mean "the financial establishment", you cannot reject that it has at least a hint to the second meaning of "the land alongside or sloping down to a river or lake." Those who put the question on hold seem not to consider how delicate the text is. – Sasan Jan 18 '17 at 20:44
  • 2
    But @Jooya, it doesn't say "red line at the bank", it says "red ink at the bank." Different creatures have different reactions to the coyote's howl: the deer hears it as a threat to existence, the hunter hears it as a challenge to his hunting skill, the cow-man (i.e. cattle rancher) hears it as a possibility of losing money due to predation. That really is all there is to it. – Hellion Jan 18 '17 at 20:52
  • So are you saying the writer is not somehow putting the other sense of the "bank" into our perspective as well? Because 2 paragraphs later in the text we read: "When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf." Here "bank" is used in the second sense. So, I say, the main thing the writer intend to say is, of course, that the sense the howl has for the cowman is losing money; but the writer at the same time wants to refer us to the cause of that money loosing, which is cows being killed by the wolf on the bank leaving red ink (blood). – Sasan Jan 18 '17 at 21:09
  • 1
    @Jooya - You're reading too much into it. Odds are the author didn't even notice that he'd used "bank" twice in two different senses. – Hot Licks Jan 18 '17 at 22:12

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