Can't understand this sentence:

"The child, I am sure, was part of the appeal", what does it mean?difficult to understand :( Anyone can help me?

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closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, AndyT, Mari-Lou A, Tonepoet, curiousdannii Jan 26 '18 at 5:15

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  • "Child", in this context, would be presumed to refer to a young human, probably younger than about 14 and older than 2. (Younger than a year or 2 would often be referred to as a "baby".) If you desire further information, please specify exactly what you don't understand, including the definitions you've consulted which do not adequately explain things. – Hot Licks Jan 24 '18 at 13:19
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    @HotLicks in the previous sentence it says "small hips that less than two years earlier helped her bear a child". So, the child is definitely less than two years old. The word "child" can refer to a baby, so there's no need to set a minimum age. My interpretation is that the writer's father had an affair with a local woman in Viet Nam, who bore him a child, who was "part of the appeal" (of the relationship), and he eventually left them both behind to come "home" to his original family, a decision which has left him with lasting internal conflict and unhappiness. – Max Williams Jan 24 '18 at 14:14
  • Hi hzzy. Is there anything in particular you can tell us to help us understand just what you have difficulty understanding? Are there any particular words you do not know? Is there something strange about the punctuation? We can't really help you with your confusion without the faintest idea of what it is. – Tonepoet Jan 26 '18 at 5:10
  • Thank you Tonepoet, Hot Licks, Max Williams, Harry Tuttle, Janus... thank you all of you. Now I understand. I am not a native English speaker, without your help and so detailed explanation and discussion, I would never got it. Thank you very very much. – hzzy Jan 26 '18 at 5:48

The passage doesn’t explain whether the child was the Dad’s or not, but that is possibly implied, though it’s ambiguous. I wonder if he had previously helped out with the birth eg. As an army medic.

Whatever his attraction to the Vietnamese woman, the sentence means that his attraction to her was enhanced by the presence of the child, and the cause of much emotional pain for him, leaving them both behind.

  • I think you’re misreading it. It’s not the presence of a child that’s part of the appeal (to whom?), but the promise/hope of having a child with an American soldier that’s part of the appeal to the Vietnamese woman of entering into a relationship (however long or short) with the soldier. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '18 at 16:16
  • Maybe, except for the fact that the child had been born “less than two years earlier”. As to whom she was attractive, it says “she must have been special to attract the eye of my father” No? – Harry Tuttle Jan 24 '18 at 16:29
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    Hm, yes, good point. It may be that the father was attracted to the Vietnamese woman in part because she already had a child (and perhaps therefore would not be as likely to want one with him?). Her attractiveness is definitely to the father; but it’s not entirely clear whether the appeal (of the relationship, presumably) is also to him. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 '18 at 16:32
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    Yes, that’s what I think... that the presence of the child enhanced the fathers attraction for the woman. Maybe as you say, because she wouldn’t want more, or possibly because it showed she was fertile, or maybe (as I speculate) he was the child’s father, or had helped with the birth (possibly as an MO). – Harry Tuttle Jan 24 '18 at 16:38

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