The word "raw" confuses me. Could you please tell me what's the semantic relatedness between words "coin" and "raw"?

The full text is:

Tyler was a softer target: I begged and he gave me a silver coin as big as my palm. The coin soothed me. It seemed to me that Tyler’s buying it was a declaration of loyalty, a pledge to our family that despite the madness that had hold of him, that made him want to go to school, ultimately he would choose us. By the time the leaves began to change, from the juniper greens of summer to the garnet reds and bronzed golds of autumn, that coin shimmered even in the lowest light, polished by a thousand finger strokes.I’d taken comfort in the raw physicality of it, certain that if the coin was real, Tyler’s leaving could not be.

Tara Westover's novel, educated

I checked "raw" in Longman Dictionary:

  1. not cooked
  2. raw substances are in a natural state and not treated or prepared for use.
  3. raw information is collected but not organized, examined, or developed.
  4. raw feelings are strong and natural, but not fully controlled.
  5. if a part of your body is raw, the skin there is red and painful.
  6. not experienced or not fully trained.
  7. touch/hit a raw nerve
  8. very cold.
  9. music, art, language etc that is raw is simple, direct, and powerful, but not fully developed.

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  • 1
    You need to explain what you think the expression means, and why you don't understand it. Is it the word "raw" that confuses you? Do you think it means that the coin is "uncooked", "fleshy"? – Mari-Lou A Apr 25 '18 at 11:07
  • And I'm not saying that dictionary definitions would suffice here (paradoxically, the emotional effect of the concrete entity is strongly connoted), but one or two should be given. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 25 '18 at 11:08
  • @Mari-Lou A : Yes. The word "raw" confuses me. Could you please tell me what's the semantic relatedness between "coin" and "raw"? – user295306 Apr 25 '18 at 11:49
  • It might help you to note that (at least so far as this reader is concerned), raw physicality could just as well be expressed as visceral physicality - which as that link shows, has been used many times by writers. Or indeed raw viscerality - somewhat less common, but does actually occur, and to me conveys much the same thing. – FumbleFingers Apr 25 '18 at 11:59
  • @FumbleFingers go ahead and post it as an answer, I'll upvote it. – Mari-Lou A Apr 25 '18 at 12:01

The raw physicality of something refers to its being, its essential and physical presence in the world.

The silver coin in the passage would be tarnished and blackened if the speaker hadn't polished it to a shine by caressing it a thousand times with her fingers.

As the Longman Dictionary attests, raw also means “strong and natural”, and Oxford Dictionaries says

  1. (of an emotion or quality) strong and undisguised.
  • It's really a pretty passage. The author disengages the image of "raw physicality" from where one might expect to see it as a cliché and puts it into such an unusual setting.... – Lambie Apr 25 '18 at 13:03
  • @Lambie I agree it is very well written and normally I would have said that "raw physicality" is used to describe the human body, maybe a man who is physically and naturally strong. – Mari-Lou A Apr 25 '18 at 13:10
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    Have you read the reviews? What a story she has. One can see how she might have come up with it. This fundamentalist you-no-what on this side of the pond is really horrible. – Lambie Apr 25 '18 at 13:20

There are two layers here.

  • 'raw' is meant metaphorically, not like for vegetables but more like open and direct, closer to meaning 9 in your list.

  • 'raw physicality' is a common term, almost a cliché for an imposing brazen display for the senses that is not covered up or, very differently, intended to be cerebral with more implications. It is often used to describe a boxer or a Rodin sculpture or a Brazilian Carnaval parade. A plain letter is usually not considered to have 'raw physicality' but very well may have some in the peculiar circumstance where the letter is written on old parchment and is smudged with tears, half torn, marred by dirt and blood stains.

In the passage, it means the coin, in contrast to its value, also feels meaningful because of its weight and color and touch.

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