About this text:

Turning the idea of happiness on its head had suddenly made me very happy.

What does "its" refer to? Does it mean "happiness's"?

The context is:

Come On, Get Happy
“Happiness is a fatality,” wrote the poet Rimbaud. I remember being somewhat puzzled when I first read that line, and then feeling a sense of ease and liberation wash over me. Turning the idea of happiness on its head had suddenly made me very happy.
I would guess that happiness has ruined many a life since it was invented, which may not have been so long ago.

Excerpt from Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! by Wes "Scoop" Nisker.

  • Need that part where this very line is inserted. Quote it. – Mistu4u Sep 26 '13 at 3:32
  • It's in the context which is the beginning of the first passage of a chapter. @Mistu4u – Lincoln Sep 26 '13 at 13:33

We can analyze the first part of the sentence like this:

Turning the idea (of happiness) (on its head)...

"of happiness" is an adjective prepositional phrase that describes idea (which idea?). "on its head" is an adverb prepositional phrase that describes turning (how are we turning?), and the "its" refers to "idea". You could remove the phrase "of happiness", and the sentence would still make sense:

Turning the idea on its head...

| improve this answer | |
  • the "its" refers to "idea"- I think this doesn't make sense,like turning the body on the head. – Lincoln Sep 26 '13 at 13:38
  • 2
    @Lincoln "turning on its head" is an idiomatic expression meaning "to make something the opposite", like if you took something physical and turned it upside down. The author is saying that thinking of happiness as a kind of death completely changed his idea of happiness. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Sep 26 '13 at 13:52

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