I'm trying to improve my English by reading books and i have found this sentence which I coudnt understand.

He works hard, as a military police captain so I don't get to see him as much as I want . Ma tells me that his never came from stepping on everyone along the way

and what does the pronoun his for ? This is the text:

They were financially stable until Pa turned to gambling. At first, he was good at it and won many times. Then one day he went too far and bet everything on a game his house and all his money. He lost that game and almost lost his family when Ma threatened to walk out on him if he did not stop gambling. After that, Pa never played card games again. Now we are all forbidden to play cards or even to bring a deck of cards home. If caught, even I will receive grave punishment from him. Other than his gambling, Pa is everything a good father could be: kind, gentle, and loving. He works hard, as a military police captain so I don’t get to see him as much as I want. Ma tells me that his never came from stepping on everyone along the way. Pa never forgot what it was like to be poor, and as a result, he takes time to help many others in need. People truly respect and like him. “Loung is too smart and clever for people to understand,” Pa says and winks at me. I beam at him. While I don’t know about the cleverness part, I do know that I am curious about the world—from worms and bugs to chicken fights and the bras Ma hangs in her room.

The last question: what does he mean by clever for people to understand ?

  • 2
    If this was quoted verbatim, you might be better off reading other editions. This version has non-standard spelling, capitalisation and punctuation.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 7, 2017 at 8:48
  • 1
    The meaning that comes across is that "he" arrived at his rank through personal exertion, not at the expense of others.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 7, 2017 at 8:50
  • Im reading a book called First They Killed My Father and the writer is not native english . do you think that she used improper English
    – Alper
    Feb 7, 2017 at 8:53
  • It's a style of writing that tries to be informal.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 7, 2017 at 8:55
  • I had written it since im reading from a book and made some mistake . it was Captain
    – Alper
    Feb 7, 2017 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


"Step on" is a phrasal verb:

step on someone to treat someone badly, especially because they have less power or importance than you - Macmillan Dictionary

Imagine yourself trying to climb a ladder that already has many people on it. Some might politely wait for a rung of the ladder to be vacated before stepping on it, but others might simply step on the hand or foot that's already there, seeking to get ahead even if it's at someone else's cost. Stepping on someone has the sense of the latter, at least figuratively.


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