Vicki said, ‘Don’t you care about Philip and Athena?’ said Vicki.

Elizabeth said, ‘Course I care. I always care. But there’s no point in making a song and dance about it, like that night he stayed here. Know something? There’s only one thing that’ll bring ’em back, and that’s indifference. The one thing you can’t fake.’

But you are faking it.’

‘At the moment I might be. But as soon as it stops being faked and starts being real, he’ll turn up. Rule number one of modern life.’

Vicki shuddered. ‘You’re cold. You’re too detached. You’re scary’

explain: "Elizabeth is philip's lover and now philip and Athena have travelled with each other"

  1. Does "Your are faking it" mean "you are faking that Athena and philip are in love with each other" or "you are faking that you are in love with philip"?

  2. Does "Rule number one of modern life" refer to "he" and mean: "he will Rule number one of modern life" or does it something general and mean "you should rule number one of modern life"? its meaning is unclear to me.

And dose in this context "detached" mean "unemotional"?

Source: The children's Bach by Helen Garner.

1 Answer 1

  1. The previous statement said that indifference is the one thing that can't be faked. So I interpret "But you are faking it" to mean "But you are faking indifference" (i.e., you're not actually indifferent, you're only trying to look like you are).
  2. "Rule" is not a verb here, it's a noun. It's like saying "That is the number one rule of modern life." They're making a general statement about modern life, that the most important principle is what they just mentioned - that when someone is truly indifferent (not just faking indifference), the other person will turn up.
  3. Yes, the meaning here is like "unemotional".
  • Lots of thanks, Does "indifferent" here mean: not at all interested in each other"? I think according to your answer the meaning of "but you are faking it" mean: "but you are indifferent to Athena and philip and you don't care about them and you are faking that you are caring about them" am I right? can we say "indifferent" in this context mean: "do not care about each other"? Commented Jul 25, 2021 at 16:27
  • No, it doesn't mean "each other". If A is indifferent about B, it simply means that A doesn't care about B. It's only talking about whether Elizabeth cares or not.
    – Josh Regev
    Commented Jul 25, 2021 at 16:34
  • Sorry I got a little confused, So Does the sentence "There is only one thing that'll bring them back, and that is indifferent..." means "if we don't care about them they will come back and you can not pretend that you do not care"? and "but you are faking it" mean: "you care about them but you are faking that you do not care about them"? Am I right? Commented Jul 25, 2021 at 17:00
  • I'm not sure why you're saying "we." From the text here it only seems to be talking about Elizabeth being indifferent. “There’s only one thing that’ll bring ’em back, and that’s indifference” means that the only thing that can bring them back is if I don’t care.
    – Josh Regev
    Commented Jul 25, 2021 at 17:28
  • “The one thing you can’t fake” could mean that you can’t pretend, or it could mean that even if you do pretend, you won’t succeed (they will know you are just pretending). You are correct with your last question about “You are faking it.”
    – Josh Regev
    Commented Jul 25, 2021 at 17:28

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