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I found this definition by Oxford Dictionaries for "rushed":

Done or completed too hurriedly; hasty.1

I think it works and fits with the phrase below:

When the stillness shattered and his fury rushed at me, I would know that something I had done was the catalyst, the cause.

but I am not sure. So,

  • could you please explain it to me?

  • Could you please tell me what "the strange sorcery of physics" is? (which she believes has saved her.)

“You talk much to Audrey?” he said.
“Not really,” I said.
He seemed to relax, then he said, “Audrey is a lying piece of shit.” I looked away, fixing my eyes on the church spire, visible against the light from the stars.
“I’d put a bullet in her head,” Shawn said, and I felt his body shift toward me.
“But I don’t want to waste a good bullet on a worthless bitch.”

It was crucial that I not look at him. As long as I kept my eyes on the spire, I almost believed he couldn’t touch me. Almost. Because even while I clung to this belief, I waited to feel his hands on my neck. I knew I would feel them, and soon, but I didn’t dare do anything that might break the spell of waiting. In that moment part of me believed, as I had always believed, that it would be me who broke the spell, who caused it to break. When the stillness shattered and his fury rushed at me, I would know that something I had done was the catalyst, the cause. There is hope in such a superstition; there is the illusion of control.

I stayed still, without thought or motion.
The ignition clicked, the engine growled to life. Warm air flooded through the vents.
“You feel like a movie?” Shawn said. His voice was casual. I watched the world revolve as the car spun around and lurched back to the highway. “A movie sounds just right,” he said.
I said nothing, unwilling to move or speak lest I offend the strange sorcery of physics that I still believed had saved me. Shawn seemed unaware of my silence. He drove the last mile to Buck’s Peak chatting cheerfully, almost playfully, about whether to watch The Man Who Knew Too Little, or not.

Educated by Tara Westover

2

According to Cambridge Dictionary (and according to what we know about Shawn)

rush

[DO QUICKLY] to (cause to) go or do something very quickly
[ATTACK] If a group of people rush an enemy or the place where an enemy is, they attack suddenly and all together

I think that the author is combining those two meanings.

And about

the strange sorcery of physics

She is describing her brother's violent behaviour as some sort of chemical reaction with words like catalyst. Also, she uses a metaphor alluding to some sort of principle of action-reaction [physics]: If she says anything (action), her brother will choke her with his hands (reaction). She didn't dare say a word because that act could break the spell, offending the strange sorcery of physics.

I think that it's not right to mix magic (sorcery) and science (physics) in the same metaphor. But the protagonists seem to be very superstitious and uneducated, maybe both things are the same from their point of view.

  • You mean Shawn attacted quickly? But there is no sign of any attact in the text.Vice versa it shows that the anger of Shawn is come down. – Peace Jun 19 '18 at 10:29
  • @Peace She is remembering past actions. In previous occasions "when the stillness shattered and his fury rushed at me, I would know that something I had done was the catalyst, the cause". Almost everytime when he has hit her, it's because she had done something. At least in her mind. In this exact occasion, she is trying to remain perfectly still, just staring to the church, to not disturbe him. – RubioRic Jun 19 '18 at 10:35
  • What do you mean when you say "Almost everytime when he has hit her"? – Peace Jun 19 '18 at 10:39
  • @Peace, I haven't read the book, just the pieces that you post. It's in the text above. I think that she is talking in general, not just about that specific moment. The "needle day", she did something that upset him, didn't she? – RubioRic Jun 19 '18 at 10:46
  • Yes she did, but I think agaist you: she's talking about the specific moment. it seems she has found a new solution: Silence. But I still cannot understand the phrase "his fury rushed at me" in relate to the text. – Peace Jun 19 '18 at 10:56
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When the stillness shattered and his fury rushed at me, I would know that something I had done was the catalyst, the cause.

The protasis (the dependent clause) “When the stillness shattered…” expresses the condition while the apodosis (the main clause) “I would know…” expresses the consequence. The whole sentence refers to a possible future event written in the past. This type of construction is also known as future in the past

If Shawn's rage exploded, she knew that the responsibility for that event was hers: “…something I had done was the catalyst,…”.

If we swap the simple past tense in the dependent clause with the simple present, and the past perfect (I had done) with the past simple (I did) the meaning should become clearer.

When the stillness shatters and his fury rushes at me, I'll know that something I did was the catalyst, the cause.

In the story, however, we learn that the silence (stillness) in the car was not broken (shattered), consequently Shawn's anger (fury) did not explode like a bomb or careen out of control (rushed).

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