What does the highlighted part of the sentence mean? It doesn't parse for me:

This "primal You" becomes the wall off which the ball can bounce, the subject to which paired qualities can stick, the framework on which the full-fledged Other will be built.

  • Sorry, we don’t do literary criticism here. But the short story is that read like PoMo ... which infamously has multiple interpretations.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 12, 2018 at 12:37
  • 2
    Sorry, “literary criticism” means “interpretation of a text”, not “a critique of a text”. But if you’re just wondering about the “wall” part: no, it’s not an idiom, it’s just a metaphor: picture a wall. Now picture throwing a rubber ball against the wall. It bounces off. Every time you throw the ball, it bounces off the wall. It must. So in that thing you’re asking about, “the primal You” is the wall, and something else is the ball, and the ball bounces off the wall. I know that’s not totally helpful, but anything more becomes interpretation... of a messy text.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 12, 2018 at 12:44
  • 1
    @HamidMalekzadeh Delete your comments and add this to your question. Dec 12, 2018 at 13:51
  • 2
    As others have said, it’s not an idiom. It just means what the words literally mean. The entire thing is metaphorical, but not in a way that is particularly English. The same metaphor would presumably work in your own language (Farsi?) in one form or another. Dec 12, 2018 at 14:29
  • 1
    @PeterShor it is somehow about phenomenology; and Husserl. I think, regardinh what every one said about the sentence,it means it prepares the essencial side by which the pairing can be strted; just like what a waal dose n bouncing the bal or something like this. Dec 13, 2018 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


This "primal You" becomes the wall off which the ball can bounce...

This is slightly more formal grammar. Nowadays people will be more likely to say

This thing becomes the wall that the ball can bounce off.

These are both transformations from sentences with prepositional phrases and asking a question about the object of the preposition:

The ball can bounce off of the wall

which transforms into:

What thing can the ball bounce off?


Off which thing can the ball bounce?

(in order to avoid the preposition at the end of the sentence that some stylists disdain)


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.