While writing a term paper, I came across the sentences "So the Ramages were lost to white society. Lost to everyone but Dr. Cox." ("Ramages" and "Dr. Cox" being names of figures in the story).

I'm not exactly sure what is meant by that. I've tried googling it, but all I could find was the meaning of "to be lost on someone". My two interpretations are:

  1. The Ramages have succumbed to/affiliated with white society and/or adopted their code/morals/traditions/etc.
  2. The white society/everyone but Dr. Cox has given up on/disowned the Ramages

For context, the short story is called "Pioneers, Oh, Pioneers" by Jean Rhys, and the Ramages were a white man and his freshly married black wife, so I think either interpretation could make sense. Does anyone have an idea which one makes more sense, or is there an even better 3rd interpretation I've missed? Thanks so much in advance for all the answers :)

1 Answer 1


The writer is using the expression lost to to mean that the Ramages were ostracised by white people. With the exception of Dr Cox, white people wanted nothing to do with them as a couple.

The practice of ostracising people or couples who do not accord with society's conventions and expectations has been a common human experience down the ages.

Under apartheid laws in South Africa, "interracial" sex was not merely frowned on, it was a criminal offence. In some parts of the world, homosexuals are still ostracised and face prosecution or persecution or both.

  • Ahh, that makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much!
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 15:36

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