I would like to know what "It carried messages I had never expected were there." means in the following sentences:

‘What is this?’ I asked.

Hania looked around the group, everyone smiling at my question. ‘Zupa,’ she said, meaningfully. ‘Poppy-stem soup. It will send you flying.’

Her black eyes gleamed. You were sitting next to her and nodded at me encouragingly. She served me the first cup and handed it across the table. All eyes were on me. I held the cup to my lips and downed it in its entirety, pouring it into myself like medicine. I wanted to dissolve with it. There was a dark-brown taste to it, bitter, unforgiving. They smiled at me and followed my lead, all drinking too. We sat around looking at each other, Hania rubbing my hand across the table, giggling. You held her hand, and Maksio’s hand. We all took each other’s hands and formed a chain. And moments later – or was it more than that – we were all sitting on the couches, spread out, joyous. My body was weightless. There was nothing on my mind, nothing at all; it was so light it floated. I saw you sitting near me and all I felt was love. I closed my eyes and saw fields, and flowers and the lake, the lake from that summer, and everything was there for me, only for me, and I loved myself – all of it, every atom – like I never had before. The music that was playing was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. Every word of it – it was Serge Gainsbourg singing in French – I understood. It carried messages I had never expected were there. And we danced. You and me, Hania and you, me and her. Agata and Maksio. All of us together.

In this novel which is set in the 1980's in Poland under the socialist regime, where homosexuality was socially unacceptable, the protagonist Ludwik left Poland in 1981 to live in the United States of America. And he remembers what it was like back then in Poland, where, one day, he went to the country house of his rich friend named Hania. At the country house, he and Hania and all of their friends drank Zupa, Polish heroin. After drinking the drugged soup, he felt weightlessness.

In this part, I am confused about the structure of the sentence. Does it mean "It carried messages [that] were there (in the music), and I had never expected those messages"?

In short, I wonder whether it would be right to understand that "I had never expected" is merely inserted between "messages" and "[that] were there."

1 Answer 1


When there narrator says "It carried messages I had never expected were there." He means that in that moment, he perceived in the song messages, meanings, that he had not expected to be in the song.

The narrator is clearly in a moment of heightened emotion and distorted perception. He is under the influence of the drug. When he says "And moments later – or was it more than that" he indicates this. So it is not clear if the "messages" were there all along but he had not previously noticed them, or if they were things invented by his mind and attributed to the song.

"I had never expected were there" here modifies "messages". The messages the narrator is talking about are messages he had not thought previously to be in the song. He does not explain further what they were.

The author is here using realistic description somewhat figuratively to convey the metal state of the narrator to the reader. Everything in the passage is part of this defect, and must be considered in that light.

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