Behind the papers, which were only currency's second cousins, was the real stuff.
— It, chapter 3

I don't understand what does currency's second cousins mean. I even searched in the Internet, but I didn't find any result. Can someone help me ?

  • 1
    "currency" refers to money. It has direct value. "Papers" most likely refers to a financial instrument like a contract, a bond, a treasury note, or some other piece of paper that must be converted to "currency" to have the same value (thus, "second cousins" because they're less valuable than currency itself).
    – JBH
    Oct 6, 2017 at 23:30
  • "Second cousin" basically means "distant relative".
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 7, 2017 at 4:14

2 Answers 2


"Behind the papers, which were only currency's second cousins, was the real stuff." The OP asks what this means.

"Behind the papers . . . was the real stuff. The cash. Four thousand dollars in tens, twenties, and fifties."

So if one simply keeps reading, it's all explained. There's cash (currency) behind the papers.

The "second cousins" are the papers, which are only (as @Hotlicks points out) distantly related to the real stuff--the cash. If you go back a few paragraphs, the papers are described--papers about the house, land, an insurance policy, the "last will and testament" of the protagonist.


My mother's cousin’s children are my second cousins. As currency is made of paper, you can say there are related but currency is special than paper(So, indirect relation). Even though the world is materialistic, in the end currency is nothing but paper. P.S : This is my first answer,so please bear with it.

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