He wondered, as he did so, if they did not represent an unnecessary note of strain. Mrs. Barrows smoked only Luckies. It was his idea to puff a few puffs on a Camel (after the rubbing-out), stub it out in the ashtray holding her lipstick-stained Luckies, and thus drag a small red herring across the trail. Perhaps it was not a good idea. It would take time. He might even choke, too loudly.

Does choke in the example mean "cough"? It looks like since he is smelling a cigar for the first time it might make him cough so loudly that the neighbors would hear it.

For context.

  • 2
    Sounds like it means "cough" to me.
    – bittenfig
    Feb 24, 2014 at 9:23
  • 3
    Yes, it's talking about choking on the smoke, i.e. coughing. I guess he's trying to be quiet/secret for some reason. Feb 24, 2014 at 9:28

1 Answer 1


True as said in the comments. Choking here seems 'coughing' and also difficulty in breathing (dyspnea).

Coughing happens when someone tries a cigar (or the like) for the first time. Here are the symptoms that happen to a person when they smoke for the first time.

When you learn to start smoking, it's not an easy process. It burns you. It chokes you. It makes you nauseous and dizzy, and while your head is spinning, you have a really bad taste in your mouth.

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