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That year we had planned to fish for marlin off the Cuban coast for a month. The month started the tenth of April and by the tenth of May we had twenty-five marlin and the charter was over. The thing to have done then would have been to buy some presents to take back to Key West and fill the Anita with just a little more expensive Cuban gas than was necessary to run across, get cleared, and go home.

Could anyone explain to me the meaning of the last sentence? What does the expression 'to run across' mean here? And do the words 'get cleared, and go home' go with 'necessary to' or with 'The thing to have done then would have been to'?

I suppose, 'Anita' is the name of the ship.

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    "Run across" means "make the run" or "cross the sea from Cuba to Key West." The phrase "get cleared" means "deal with exit formalities." Paraphrased: Fuel is more expensive in Cuba than in USA, so we should have put in just enough fuel to get to USA, then cleared customs and gone home (with some presents). Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 11:56
  • Context: newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/pursuit-as-happiness
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 12:34
  • @WeatherVane So in this case 'than' is used instead of 'that'? According to your paraphrased sentence, we can say "gas that was necessary to run across"? (use 'that' instead of 'than') But what if there is a comparison: 'fill the Anita with just a little more expensive Cuban gas than was necessary to run across'? Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 14:21
  • I paraphrased "just a little more (expensive Cuban gas) than was necessary" as "just enough." It mentions gas in Cuba being expensive, presumably more expensive than in USA, otherwise they would have filled the tank rather than putting "just enough" in it to get them home. Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 14:25
  • @WeatherVane Thank you, now I get it. Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 14:32

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"more expensive Cuban gas than was necessary" means a quantity of gasoline that was in excess of what was needed. And the gasoline was expensive.

Hemingway had a tendency to write sentences which were difficult to unscramble.

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  • Thank you, I get it. Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 14:32
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Could anyone explain to me the meaning of the last sentence? What does the expression 'to run across' mean here? And do the words 'get cleared, and go home' go with 'necessary to' or with 'The thing to have done then would have been to'?

  1. "to run across" means "to travel across". There are many dictionary definitions of "run". The meaning to choose depends on the context. Here "run" suggests a short and probably speedy journey.

  2. They go with "necessary" or, more accurately, "necessary to". It was necessary to (a) run across (b) get cleared (c) go home

  3. Notice that it says "the Anita" as opposed to "Anita". This is normal usage when discussing a ship's name. The phrase "we filled up Anita" sounds as though you were filling a person or animal!. You should say, "We filled up the Anita", then we know it's a boat.

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  • Thank you, but I still don't understand the meaning of the comparison 'more expensive Cuban gas than was necessary to run across, get cleared, and go home'. Does the author mean that crossing the sea from Cuba to Key West is more expensive than crossing the sea from Key West to Cuba? Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 12:18
  • @RainerMaria - That is quite possible. I presume that fuel is more expensive in Cuba although I haven't checked. It isn't possible to be certain without reading more of the story. Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 12:23

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