1

From the Dark Knight movie (2008):

A criminal called Joker comes to the Mob Bosses he's stolen from earlier. They're obviously mad at him and he adds more fuel to the fire saying that they're gonna lose all their money if the Batman doesn't die.

If we don't deal with this now, soon little Gambol here won't be able to get a nickel for his grandma

After that Gambol flies into a tantrum and tries to kill the Joker.

I wondered if "a nickel" meant 5 cents or could it mean something like "a bag of drugs". There's no other context I can give. We don't know if Gambol's grandmother is junky or if he's been giving her 5 cents per day. I' wondering if it's possible to say exact definition of "a nickel" in the context.

3

A nickel here has its ordinary sense, a 5¢ piece.

The Joker's line here depends on familiarity with the common similitude that "X is so greedy/crass/inhuman that he would sell his grandmother for a buck" (or some other low price). The Joker implies that Gambol is just such a person, but that conditions will decline to the point when Gambol won't be able to get even a nickel—crime won't pay any more, and the most despicable deals won't yield any profit.

  • When a nickel was a nickel, i.e. when you could actually buy something for five cents, what colour were they? The old 12-sided three-penny bits first struck in 1937 were of nickel-brass. They had a yellowish hue. But I believe that American servicemen used to refer to them as "nickels" - possibly because they were roughly of the same value. Probably a question for the History site. – WS2 May 3 '17 at 20:53
  • 1
    @WS2: A nickel was nickel-colored. A dull silverish color. You've probably seen nickel-plated artifacts from time to time. Just imagine a coin that looks like that, and it's bigger than a dime or a penny but smaller than a quarter. – Robusto May 3 '17 at 21:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.