18

Harry had given a cry of pain; his scar had burned again as something flashed across his mind like a bright light on water. He saw a large shadow and felt a fury that was not his own pound through his body, violent and brief as an electric shock.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

What does 'pound' mean in this context? I've looked it up in free dictionary. But I don't know which definition fits.

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    The sentence would have been clearer with a few commas: "... felt a fury, that was not his own, pound through his body..." - I'm not sure if this is used in English, though. "Pound" is a verb: to pound = to knock, hammer, ... – j4nd3r53n Oct 7 at 7:43
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    Upvote this comment if you too came to this question mainly out of curiosity of whether the asker inadvertently asked about something X-rated. ;-) – QuestionOverflow Oct 8 at 0:08
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    @j4nd3r53n Adding commas changes the meaning of the sentence: As written (with "not his own" as a defining clause), the fact that the fury is not Harry's is a mandatory and emphasised part of the sentence. With the commas (with "not his own" as a non-defining clause), it becomes an optional part of the sentence. The point of the sentence is specifically that the fury isn't Harry's (but rather Voldemort's), instead of just being that Harry felt some fury - so commas are inappropriate. – Chronocidal Oct 8 at 9:03
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    @j4nd3r53n Disagree completely. Commas would make this harder to read not easier. One of the marks of a good writer is not overusing commas. – Apologize and reinstate Monica Oct 9 at 15:59
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    @only_pro I suspect it is a matter of habit whether it makes harder or not - I grew up with strict, grammatical punctuation, so it feels natural to me, However, I don't think the question was about writing skills, but about meaning, and I would suggest that grammatical commas are a good tool for highlighting the structure of a sentence. That said, a tool is only useful if you know how to use it. – j4nd3r53n Oct 10 at 8:37
33

The term "pound" in this instance means to pulsate or throb. The sentence could have been written:

"He felt ... fury ... throb through his body".

or

"He felt ... fury ... pulse through his body".

We often refer to blood "pounding" in a person's veins when a person is angry or fearful, because of the faster and harder heartbeat that is created by anger or fear. The sentence above has an implied or sub-textual reference to a pounding heart or blood pounding through the veins of the person who is experiencing fury.

See definition of verb "to pound".

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    @dan - I don't understand your comment. The only noun I see in that specific part of the sentence is "fury". I parse the sentence as "[He saw a large shadow] - and - [felt a fury ... pound through his body]. Do you parse it differently? – TechnoCat Oct 6 at 12:36
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    @TechnoCat Oh! I parsed the sentence wrongly. Thank you very much! – dan Oct 6 at 13:01
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    Yes there is a tiny pause after 'not his own', without which, the sentence is hard to understand. It could do with a comma there (almost!). 'He felt a fury, that was not his own, pound through his body'. 😊 – Jelila Oct 6 at 14:55
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    @Jelila Adding commas would also require changing "that" to "which". – No U Oct 7 at 20:59
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    @Jelila "Which" is the relative pronoun for non-defining clauses, while "That" is the relative pronoun for defining clauses. Once you put the adjective clause ("not his own") between commas or brackets, you are saying that is additional information, and no longer absolutely necessary to define the noun ("fury"). As such, it moves from being a defining clause (i.e. the fury not being his own is mandatory for the sentence, requiring "that") to being a non-defining clause (i.e. the fury not being his own is optional for the sentence, requiring "which"). – Chronocidal Oct 8 at 8:18
47

You parsed it in error. It's not

(not)   felt 
(not)      a fury  
(not)         that is not his own pound
(not)      through his body

The noun is not "pound" being modified by "fury".
It is "fury" being modified by "pound".

felt 
   a fury  
      that is not his own
      pound
         through his body

"Pound" is what the fury is doing. It's an action. Note that two phrases are modifying "fury": "that is not his own" and "pound".

If we simplify the sentence as much as possible by removing modifying phrases (except pound), we get

He saw a shadow and felt a fury pound.

Or simpler,

He saw a shadow and felt a fury.

  • 1
    I don't know if I agree with your final simplification. Yes, the two sentences have similar meanings, but it could be misconstrued to show that you could drop any verb that came after fury and keep a similar meaning. E.g., if the sentence were "He saw a shadow and felt his fury abate." it would not be a valid simplification to drop "abate". – Chris Bouchard Oct 7 at 20:26
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    @ChrisBouchard I would say you should disagree with every simplification, as every one changes meaning. What's more, all of them are essential to a YA book. I agree, the last one takes it further than the others, it's only there to illustrate how very simple the sentence is structurally, when all the modifiers are removed. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 7 at 20:44
4

"pound" is a verb form of "to pound" here. It is the same construct as "I felt a bee sting me". The core part means "He felt a fury pound through his body, a fury that was not his own". I'd use "rush" instead of "pound" here maybe, because furies tend not to move in one's body in much of a pounding manner.

2

Pound = heartbeat

As in the hearts making a pounding from within.

1

The answer by Harper provides an excellent technical analysis. For simplicity, the problem of comprehension can also be resolved by the minimal use of punctuation for clarification: "He saw a large shadow and felt a fury that was not his own, pound through his body".

I have done work translating German technical documents into English. As a result, I would not want to translate an English document into German.

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    He saw a large shadow and felt a fury, that was not his own, pound through his body Either two commas or none. – user22427 Oct 6 at 20:55
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    I'd want to lose the "that was" in the version with commas @JanDoggen – JCRM Oct 7 at 16:29

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