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I am wondering what "the mistrustful way he acts around Will" means in the following sentences:

I watch Charlie until his gaze snags on mine – I make sure I’m the first to glance away. And I wonder: is he now the jealous one? I’ve seen the mistrustful way he acts around Will, as though he’s trying to find the flaw. I caught him observing the two of us over drinks. And I felt it again, how good we look together, imagining it through his eyes.

  • Lucy Foley, The Guest List, Chapter 14

This is a thriller novel published in 2020 in the United Kingdom. One hundred and fifty guests would be gathering at some remote and deserted fictional islet called Inis an Amplóra off the coast of the island of Ireland to celebrate the wedding between Jules (a self-made woman running an online magazine called The Download) and Will (a celebrity appearing in a TV show program called Survive the Night). The day before the actual wedding day, during the rehearsal dinner, Jules sees Charlie. Jules once had a crush on Charlie when she was sixteen, and was secretly envious of Hannah for having married to Charlie, who once worked as a sailing instructor and is now working as a geography teacher for fifteen-year-old students. And she presently wonders whether Charlie is the jealous one now, because Jules is going to be married to Will. (The narrator here is Jules.)

In this part, I wonder what "the mistrustful way he acts around Will" means.

Would that mean Charlie's behaviour itself was mistrustful, like his behaviour contained many suspicious aspects?

Or, would that mean Charlie's behaviour towards Will revealed his mistrust towards Will, like Charlie does not believe Will is a good person...?

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    The latter interpretation is correct. – Michael Harvey Apr 18 at 10:10
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    You can probably start to omit the paragraph starting "This is a thriller novel published in 2020" from now on. I think we all know what The Guest List is by now. – Michael Harvey Apr 18 at 10:12
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    For the first interpretation to apply, an appropriate word would be "untrustworthy", rather than "mistrustful". "Untrustworthy" means deserving mistrust, "mistrustful" means showing mistrust. Then there is the word "suspicious", which can mean either of those two things! – James Martin Apr 18 at 10:50
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    Charlie acts as if he does not trust Will. In the forest, I might act untrustfully around a hungry wolf, even if it has said it will not harm me. – Michael Harvey Apr 18 at 10:59
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    If the behaviour was mistrustful, that doesn't mean the behaviour contained many suspicious aspects. The writer is talking about Charlie being "mistrustful" (he lacks trust / faith / confidence / belief) - nothing to do with whether other people trust Charlie, or think he's acting in a way that arouses suspicion. – FumbleFingers Apr 18 at 14:31
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I can understand why you question the meaning of this passage

The question answers it's self when you retain the context.

Re-asking the question

In this part, I wonder what "I’ve seen the mistrustful way he acts around Will, as though he’s trying to find the flaw". means.

Then the answer is obvious, but is it the correct one? The one who is mistrustful is Charlie.

Charlie's behaviour itself was mistrustful, like his behaviour contained many suspicious aspects?

the mistrustful way "he" acts. The "He" being Charlie

However if you look at the context of the passage this is clearly not what the writer intended to imply. Which I believe to be.

Charlie's behaviour towards Will revealed his mistrust towards Will, like Charlie does not believe Will is a good person...?

Author's can also make mistakes, but the blame lies on the proof reader, that is what they are paid for!


proofreader: noun; a person whose job is to check text before it is printed or put online

Grammarly’s online proofreader automatically detects grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and style mistakes in your writing.

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From a comment by James Martin:

For the first interpretation to apply, an appropriate word would be "untrustworthy", rather than "mistrustful". "Untrustworthy" means deserving mistrust, "mistrustful" means showing mistrust. Then there is the word "suspicious", which can mean either of those two things!

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  • It is better if you make this a community wiki answer – Dhanishtha Ghosh Jun 3 at 13:04
  • I meant to, but forgot to click the box at the last moment, and then didn't know whether I should bother the moderators by editing it for something so small. I've done it now since you said it was a good idea. – A. B. Jun 3 at 14:54

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