I came across this sentence which I can't understand in The Kite Runner.

Hassan’s father, Ali, used to catch us and get mad, or as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could ever get.

I have two different understanding:

  1. Ali was mad, but the madness is just madness of gentle people like Ali, that is, it could accounted strong madness for Ali, but maybe not for someone else not as gentle as Ali.

  2. How gentle Ali was usually, how mad Ali was at the moment.

Which one is correct, or neither?  Thanks for your help and sorry for my possible blur expression.


The first explanation is almost certainly what is intended.

"As gentle as Ali" is a dependent noun clause modifying "someone." Take it out, and the relevant parts of the sentence essentially become "Ali was as mad as someone could get." This is a much simpler sentence and hopefully clarifies the structure a bit. Then, all you have to do is treat the removed noun clause as something explaining who specifically that "someone" is.

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