7

The context is:

DAVID: I wish I had children.
FANNY: How could you? All the women you like are too drafty, if you know what I mean. None of them could have children. Which, as God in his wisdom, would have it.

I couldn't find in the Internet any definition of "drafty" except "cold and uncomfortable because of currents of cool air". Now, I understand there may be some sort of irony, but the comparing a draft and women who can't have children doesn't make any sense to me.

2
  • Could you give us the source? From the spelling, I'm guessing that it's American. It may mean flat-chested.
    – Mick
    Dec 3, 2016 at 15:52
  • It's from movie of "Watch on the Rhine" (1943). It's an American movie and the character is American. Dec 3, 2016 at 15:57

1 Answer 1

6

This line is retained from the play by Lillian Hellman, which her lover Dashiell Hammett followed very closely in writing the screenplay. Earlier in the play, Sara and her mother discuss David's girlfriends before David arrives:

SARA.   Why hasn’t he married?
FANNY. Really, I don’t know. I don’t think he likes his own taste. Which is very discriminating of him. He’s had a lot of girls, of course, one more ignorant and silly than the other —

Drafty (draughty in Hellman's original) is Fanny's ironically euphemistic expression for the ignorance and silliness of the women David likes. They're not physically incapable of childbearing, just too self-absorbed and empty-headed—today we say "air-headed"—to endure the trouble of bearing children.

9
  • 1
    I agree this is the more likely explanation than the "past birthing age" the other answer suggests. My impression is that it's similar to the colloquialism "flighty".
    – Andrew
    Dec 3, 2016 at 17:43
  • @Andrew Agreed - knowing the context helps, and I'll admit to only skimming through the script (which, in the version I've found, didn't even properly attribute the lines). It still doesn't seem to be an actual English idiom, but this interpretation makes much more sense. Dec 3, 2016 at 18:29
  • @MaciejStachowski It's not idiomatic: Fanny marks it as a nonce-usage with if you know what I mean. ... Those "scripts" you find on the internet are I believe ripped from subtitle tracks. Dec 3, 2016 at 18:39
  • 1
    It might be anachronistic for the original time period, but "wind between your ears" is a concept that has some modern currency. The implication is that there's nothing (i.e. no brain) to stop wind from going in one ear and out the other. I could see "drafty" being used similarly, implying that their head is empty (and unkept) enough to experience drafts.
    – R.M.
    Dec 3, 2016 at 20:42
  • @R.M. Fersher. Their heads are open to the wind, but there's nothing there to be stirred up but dust. Dec 3, 2016 at 21:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .