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I am so confusing why one has to "look very hard to see" here. why to see "a suit of amor" in them? and why "any" of them?

my own guess is "one has to be careful with these guys" ??

here is the sentence:

Nathan was staring at the cans of lager. I had to admit that you’d have had to look quite hard to see a suit of armour in any of them.

here is the context:

'I' found some ex-soilders to help us to lift a wheelchair stuck in mud. They are the only men 'I' could get although they are drunk with beer. Nathan is my company, waiting for 'me' to get some help.

  • What is the source document? – Jasper Dec 13 '18 at 10:53
  • a novel, from <me before you>. – user86301 Dec 13 '18 at 11:01
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It means:

You had to make quite an effort (of imagination) to see them as suits of armor.

"them" could refer to something other than the cans, that is, to the guys helping get the wheelchair out of the mud, and "suit of armor" could be an allusion to "knight in shining armor", that is, to a heroic rescuer. None of those drunken guys seemed particularly noble and heroic.

You should quote the surrounding passage as you find it in the book, so the context is clearer.

  • surrounding passage: They swayed after me in a wayward trail. I could hear them exclaiming between themselves, muttering. ‘Bloody civvies . . .no idea what it’s like . . When we reached them, Nathan was standing by Will, whose head had sunk deep into the collar of his coat with cold, even as Nathan covered his shoulders with another blanket. ‘These very nice gentlemen have offered to help us,’ I said. Nathan was staring at the cans of lager. I had to admit that you’d have had to look quite hard to see a suit of armour in any of them. ‘Where do youse want to get him to?’ said one. – user86301 Dec 13 '18 at 11:47
  • OK, it is indeed a kind of metonymy, an allusion to the heroic rescuer, the knight in (shining) armor. These drunkards did not resemble such knights by any means, and it would take a considerable effort (of imagination) to see them as such. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 13 '18 at 12:48
  • finally makes sense to me! great! – user86301 Dec 14 '18 at 5:59

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