From the book Rainmaker:

Simple Rudy. This is Tennessee. Land of five figure.

I don't get the meaning of five figure.

And I couldn't find the meaning of the bolded phrase:

In spite of the hangover, the wheels are turning upstairs.

  • 9
    Please, ask one question at a time.
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 28, 2017 at 11:05
  • 3
    I agree with Glorfindel's comment :/. It was a little involved to answer both questions together. Despite being from the same source, they required separate, different definitions. Mar 28, 2017 at 11:39
  • 1
    Should it be edited to include 'verdicts'? It changes the entire question, imo.
    – WRX
    Mar 28, 2017 at 15:38

2 Answers 2

  1. "In spite of the hangover, [I am] still thinking, analyzing."

By "upstairs," the speaker means "in his brain" ("Upstairs," Definition Five, urbandictionary.com).

When he says the "wheels are turning" upstairs, he means that the wheels in his head are turning.

And if the wheels in his head are turning, it means that the wheels in his head are at work.

And if the wheels in his head are turning and at work, it means that he's thinking.

A related phrase would be that "the gears are turning" (see the second definition, especially).

One such man whose wheels are turning:

Insert appropriate and timely pop culture reference

  1. "Simple, Rudy. This is Tennessee. [Tennessee is the] land of the five-digit judgements [for lawsuits for punitive damages]."

    • "Figure," Synonyms, Cambridge Dictionary.
    • "Verdict," Synonyms, Google.com
    • The Rainmaker, John Grisham

If you understand that a verdict is a judgement in a lawsuit...

...and that on occasion, one may receive monies (punitive damages) for successful lawsuits...

...while also remembering that the amount of money one person makes in Tennessee is not that high (number 40 out of 50 states)...

...then you should have no trouble understanding that Tennessee is the land of verdicts where the punitive damages awarded are only five-figures ($10,000-$99,999).

  • 1
    Thanks for your detailed answer even with a proper example picture. That helps me a lot .
    – user51561
    Mar 28, 2017 at 11:38
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    Next time I will aske a question at a time. Sorry for that .
    – user51561
    Mar 28, 2017 at 11:39
  • @user51561, heh, thank you for the question and the opportunity to put in that picture :D. Had just felt that the picture had been appropriate, given what's in theaters right now.... Mar 28, 2017 at 11:46

The wheels are turning is an idiom quite easy to find. It means "something is happening" or "something that you say which means a process is starting to happen"

  • In spite of the hangover, something is happening (preparations - i guess) upstairs.

As Teacher KSHuang has added in his answer there is another meaning to this phrase "The wheels are turning upstairs".

  • Upstairs - 3rd definition is "in the head"

So it may as well mean that "something is happening in the head".

By the way it should be The Land of five figure verdicts.

The Rainmaker by John Grisham

“Simple, Rudy. This is Tennessee. Land of the five-figure verdicts. Nobody gets punitive damages here. The juries are extremely conservative. Per capita income is pretty low, so the jurors have great difficulty making rich people out of their neighbors. Memphis is an especially tough place to get a decent verdict.”

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    You may want to take a look at the definition for "upstairs" in my answer to help explain the concept more clearly for the OP. Mar 28, 2017 at 11:12
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    @TeacherKSHuang Btw I knew this definition. It's quite an interesting sentence. I've gotta use it some day. Mar 28, 2017 at 11:36
  • Yes, it is :). The two idioms go well together. Mar 28, 2017 at 11:40
  • @TeacherKSHuang "in my head" is just one many definitions of the word "upstairs" and not an idiom. Is it not? So basically that's an idiom+intellectual definition. Mar 28, 2017 at 11:44
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    Heh, an age-old question and an age-old poll for a tale as old as time. Mar 28, 2017 at 11:54

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