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When she heard farmers talking of thousands of cattle dying of thirts or reservoirs drying up, anonymous doctors giving tips on how to avoid sun-stroke, and of beauty consultants advising a tan without withering away, Mother naturally concluded that we were in for a heat-wave that would make the West Indies seem like an extension of Alaska.

I have a question regarding the bold part of the above sentence. The part should mean that Mother expected the hot weather to the extent that Alaska would be like the West Indies. But I would express it quite contrarily: …make Alaska seem like an extension of the West Indies. The original version suggests in my opinion that in the West Indies will be the cold weather and the West Indies will seem like Alaska which does not fit in the context. Where does my logic fail in understanding this passage?

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I don't think that Mother expected anything; rather, she concluded, which means that she deduced it from the facts – stangdon Mar 15 at 12:14
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Mother concluded:

Our weather will be so hot that the (hot) temperatures we normally associate with the West Indies will seem cold (as cold as Alaska) by comparison.

P.S. This trope is known as "outdoing".

The explosion was so loud it made a jet's sonic boom sound like the popping of a champagne cork.

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Ditto T Romano. Let me add:

In context, where is this heat wave taking place?

If the heat wave is happening in Alaska, this sentence wouldn't make sense. Yes, you'd say, "make Alaska seem like an extension of the West Indies".

If the heat wave is happening in the West Indies, it would make even less sense. The West Indies are already hot.

But if it's taking place in neither the West Indies nor Alaska, than the sentence makes sense. Compared to how hot it is here, the West Indies will seem little warmer than Alaska.

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If we break the passage down we can gain a better understanding of what they mean.

When she heard farmers talking of thousands of cattle dying of thirst or reservoirs drying up, anonymous doctors giving tips on how to avoid sun-stroke, and of beauty consultants advising a tan without withering away,

Here is a clue for the reader: It's going to be hot. Really hot. Like, biblically hot. So now we know it's going to be hot.

Mother naturally concluded that we were in for a heat-wave

Here we see Mother concluding the same thing. It's going to be hot.

that would make the West Indies

This requires a little bit of Geographical knowledge. The West Indies is a Caribbean area, meaning it's a rather hot place. So far, we know it's going to be hot where they live. With knowing we're going to be comparing two locations ((The West Indies and a as-yet unknown location)) We know that the temperature difference between the heat-wave and the West Indies will be similar to the temperature difference between the West Indies and the next mentioned location. Since we know the that the heat-wave will be hot, it is implied that the heat-wave will be as much hotter than the West Indies as the West Indies is to...

seem like an extension of Alaska.

So the West Indies (( An area I imagine would average around 90+ degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity)) is being compared to Alaska, a place many people know as "really cold". So we're meant to understand it as that the heat-wave is going to make the West Indies seem cold in comparison. So basically, it's a really, really bad heat-wave.

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