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Source

Her architectural wonders cause the people in the dream -- projections of Cobb's subconscious -- to search for the intruder -- Ariadne -- like white blood cells drawn to a virus.

There are so many hyphens.

What is the meaning of the whole sentence?

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    Try analysing the sentence without the hyphen clauses: Her architectural wonders cause the people in the dream to search for the intruder like white blood cells drawn to a virus. Once you understand that, try again with the clauses included. Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 4:50
  • Try to recall the rules regarding dashes. Here is one source, for example. Then try to see if you can understand the meaning.
    – Em.
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 5:00
  • These aren't hyphens, but em dashes. Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 13:10

2 Answers 2

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The people in the dream are

projections of Cobb's subconscious.

The people in the dream are searching for the intruder.

The intruder is Adriane.

The people are searching like white blood cells drawn to a virus (white blood cells are part of your immune system and they fight viruses in your body)

So.

The wonders cause the projections of Cobb's subconscious to search for Adriana (who is an intruder) like white blood cells drawn to a virus.

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Like commas, the "long" or "em" dash is used to break up the content of a sentence into sub-clauses. Sometimes this is used to add ancillary information -- information which is useful but not necessary to the sentence.

Without these sub-clauses the sentence would simply read:

Her architectural wonders cause the people in the dream to search for the intruder, like white blood cells drawn to a virus.

The first sub-clause, "projections of Cobb's subconscious", gives us more information on who the "people in the dream" are. The second sub-clause, "Ariadne", tells us the name of the "intruder". Neither is required to understand the sentence, but may still be useful information.

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