Hannah: Now, if they ask you if it's real butter, what do you say?
Clay: It's a butter-based product.
Hannah: And you have to smile too when you say this.
Clay says nothing.
Hannah: I know, it's terrifying. But, it sells the big lie.

What does "it sells the big lie" show here ?

Possible meaning of "the big lie" here.

My interpretation :

  • The big lie could mean "it's a butter-based product".
  • "It" could mean "smile".
  • 3
    Yes, that's right. "The big lie" is the central prevarication in a dishonest sales (or other) pitch, and the smile supposedly assuages the listener's skepticism or suspicion. – Sven Yargs May 22 '18 at 17:29
  • I've been learning English for two months now and I'm just astonished to see the countless reputations that you have. I really want to have a teacher for me and I'm getting those vibes that you are the one, an honest one. Thanks for your reply.. – prince May 22 '18 at 17:33
  • It may also be worth noting that, in English, the phrase "the big lie" is heavily freighted with negative connotations because the term is associated with "the Big Lie" of Nazi ideology. See the Wikipedia page on Big lie for more on this sense of the term. – Sven Yargs May 22 '18 at 17:39

The implication here is that the product is not in fact made of real butter. Note how the clever wording dodges the question:

Customer: Is it real butter?

Representative: It's a butter-based product. smiles (Not a yes or no answer)

The smile is intended to sell the "big lie" that their product is real butter (which it isn't). In this context, "sell" means "get people to believe (the big lie)".

It's understood that a smiling, friendly representative is more likely to pull off such a lie and mislead the inquiring customer into interpreting the response as an affirmation:

Customer's interpretation: Of course it's real butter. If it weren't, would I be smiling?

  • great!..I got that! – prince May 22 '18 at 17:34

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