At teatime, "talking to Daddy" began again, complicated this time by the fact that he had an evening paper, and every few minutes he put it down and told Mother something new out of it. I felt this was foul play. Man for man, I was prepared to compete with him any time for Mother’s attention, but when he had it all made up for him by other people it left me no chance. Several times I tried to change the subject without success. "You must be quiet while Daddy is reading, Larry," Mother said impatiently. It was clear that she either genuinely liked talking to Father better than talking to me, or else that he had some terrible hold on her which made her afraid to admit the truth.

Does it mean: as his Father was reading newspaper so telling that news written by other people help him to get his wife attention?

This passage is from My Oedipus Complex by Frank O'Connor.

  • Yes, "he had it all made up for him by other people" so he wasn't speaking his own thoughts, or even conversing with Mother, who wasn't actually "talking to Father" anyway, as it is clear that the family was supposed to keep quiet and let him read out loud when he had a mind to. Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 20:20
  • Lots of thanks @Weather Vane. I have a question, what do you mean by "when he had a mind to"? Do you mean: when he just heeded news or when he was going to be annoyed? I am learning english and very curious. I would be very thankful of your answer. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 6:50
  • It means "when he wanted to". The verb to mind has a lot of nuance as shown here and "VERB context 5 be minded" is the usage. Just below that, are a lot of phrases that use mind in various ways. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 7:30

1 Answer 1


This means that the newspaper had information in it that was already created by other people. (So it was easier for the Larry's father to get his mother's attention than it was for Larry to do so.) Larry had to come up with interesting information on the spot to compete for his mother's attention.

  • Lots of thanks @ Griffin. what is the meaning of "on the spot" in your answer, Dose it mean: immedietly or at the scene of an event.? Commented May 1, 2019 at 8:45
  • It means at that moment. (So a combination of both at the scene of the event and immediately.)
    – Griffin
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 15:22

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