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Cunctator
01-15-2006, 04:27 PM
I've been re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird in preparation for a summer twilight screening of the film next weekend.

At one stage in the book, the following description of Scout's Aunt Alexandra is given:

To all parties present and participating in the life of the county, Aunt Alexandra was one of the last of her kind: she had river-boat, boarding-school manners; let any moral come along and she would uphold it; she was born in the objective case; she was an incurable gossip.

panache45
01-15-2006, 05:15 PM
My WAG is that the word "born" could be used as an adjective to describe her, not merely the fact that she had been "born" in the usual sense of the word.

Ximenean
01-15-2006, 05:46 PM
I think it means that the person is impossible to please, that they can always find something to object to. I imagine it's just a fanciful interpretation of the word "objective", because I don't see how it relates to the grammatical objective case.

Sunspace
01-15-2006, 05:49 PM
And I thought it meant that she always referred to herself in the third person.

Cunctator
01-15-2006, 05:58 PM
And I thought it meant that she always referred to herself in the third person.I don't recall any examples in the book.

I quite like Usram's suggestion that "objective case" is a play on words commenting on her propensity to interfere in others' affairs, rather than a grammatical reference.

bibliophage
01-16-2006, 02:30 AM
There's a phrase I heard once a number of years ago: "He was born in the objective case and the kickative mood." I don't know if this phrase derives from Mockingbird or if Harper Lee adapted an existing phrase.

Cunctator
01-16-2006, 04:26 PM
There's a phrase I heard once a number of years ago: "He was born in the objective case and the kickative mood."Thanks bibliophage. The double "grammatical" description using both case and mood puts the whole thing into context and makes a lot more sense as a comment on a person's character.

Atticus Finch
01-16-2006, 05:31 PM
To all parties present and participating in the life of the county, Aunt Alexandra was one of the last of her kind: she had river-boat, boarding-school manners; let any moral come along and she would uphold it; she was born in the objective case; she was an incurable gossip.The objective case is the case of a noun that is the object of a verb, and only a few words in English still have it. The objective case is why you say "to whom" instead of "to who", and this and a few other such usages are the mark of a grammatical stickler.

Thus I think it's saying Aunt Alexandra's the kind of woman who would correct the grammar of others, ie Scout and Jem. She's uptight, prim and proper. It fits with the stuff about manners.

Cunctator, I assume you already knew the grammatical background with your knowledge of Latin, just trying to illustrate my point.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-16-2006, 05:44 PM
The objective case is the case of a noun that is the object of a verb, and only a few words in English still have it. The objective case is why you say "to whom" instead of "to who", and this and a few other such usages are the mark of a grammatical stickler.

Thus I think it's saying Aunt Alexandra's the kind of woman who would correct the grammar of others, ie Scout and Jem. She's uptight, prim and proper. It fits with the stuff about manners.
The objective case refers to a noun (usually a pronoun) which is the object of a transitive verb. That means the phrase "She was born in the objective case" means that the verb "born" is not to be taken for its intransitive meaning ("coming into the world") which cannot take a direct object, but for its transitive meaning "carried." "She was born" means "she was (figuratively) carried."
Cunctator, I assume you already knew the grammatical background with your knowledge of Latin, just trying to illustrate my point.
Latin has no objective case but it would correspond to the Latin accusative.

Cunctator
01-16-2006, 05:57 PM
Thanks Atticus. I should have thought of you straight away. Clearly Alexandra's own brother would know. :)

Seriously though - yes, I do know what the objective case is. I ought to have made my initial question a bit clearer. I was really asking what the phrase implied since I couldn't see that it had a grammatical meaning in the context. I think bibliophage's answer makes the most sense.

That means the phrase "She was born in the objective case" means that the verb "born" is not to be taken for its intransitive meaning ("coming into the world") which cannot take a direct object, but for its transitive meaning "carried." "She was born" means "she was (figuratively) carried."That doesn't seem correct to me. Wouldn't the word then be spelt borne (as the past participle of "to bear")?

Atticus Finch
01-16-2006, 06:15 PM
The objective case refers to a noun (usually a pronoun) which is the object of a transitive verb.Yes, that's true. But I don't believe the grammatical term is meant to apply to the phrase "she was born". There's no transitive verb of "born".

Atticus Finch
01-16-2006, 06:17 PM
There's no transitive verb of "born".Double-checked and turns out I'm wrong. There's a rare transitive verb meaning of born meaning to cause to be delivered, to bring a baby into the world. Don't think that's relevant here though.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-16-2006, 06:24 PM
That doesn't seem correct to me. Wouldn't the word then be spelt borne (as the past participle of "to bear")?
Good point but then would be the transitive verb. If it doesn't refer to the word "born," then could it just mean that she exists in some sort of permanent state as a direct object for other verbs? A person that things always happen TO?

Diogenes the Cynic
01-16-2006, 06:33 PM
I'm guessing it could also be a way of saying that she never does anything in the subjective case...i.e she never actively does anything active but just allows things to happen to her passively.

Atticus Finch
01-16-2006, 07:15 PM
All in all, obviously a passage written by Lee rather than Capote... ;)

lissener
01-16-2006, 07:38 PM
My assumption was that she was more likely to talk about others than about herself; that she was a gossip.

Walter Windchill
01-17-2006, 04:08 PM
Given the nature of the question, I think Atticus Finch has got to be right.

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