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Here's from The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)

The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers. The parking lot attendant had brought the car out and he was still holding the door open because Terry Lennox's left foot was still dangling outside, as if he had forgotten he had one. He had a young-looking face but his hair was bone white. You could tell by his eyes that he was plastered to the hairline, but otherwise he looked like any other nice young guy in a dinner jacket who had been spending too much money in a joint that exists for that purpose and for no other.

I wonder what exactly "You could tell by his eyes that he was plastered to the hairline, but otherwise he looked like any other nice young guy in a dinner jacket who had been spending too much money in a joint that exists for that purpose and for no other." means. What do "by his eyes", "plastered to the hairline", "that purpose", etc. mean? Thanks.

  • To the hairline here is an "unusual / creative" choice of "bodily extremity" used to metaphorically emphasize the extent of his inebriation. More common alternatives include, for example, drunk from head to toe / head to tail / top to bottom, and drunk to the eyeballs. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 13 at 16:00
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"Plastered" is a synonym for drunk.

"Plastered to the hairline" may be hyperbole concerning the volume of alcohol consumed, as measured from toe to head. It may also connote an unmoving facial expression due to the stupor of intoxication.

The man's eyes were likely unresponsive and or bloodshot due to a large amount of alcohol in his system.

"for that purpose" references the business of selling alcohol. The word "joint" in this sentence is a synonym for a tavern, and the purpose is to sell drinks.

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  • Thanks. What do you think "that purpose" means? – Makoto Kato Sep 28 '14 at 2:31
  • I think the "purpose" is to drink until inebriated. A "joint" is a place to get drunk, not a place to meet friends for cocktails before going out to dinner or to the theater. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 28 '14 at 10:25
  • "a joint that exists for that purpose" The business exists solely for the purpose of selling alcohol. – Seamus Nanatchk Sep 28 '14 at 22:41
  • Could that purpose be spending too much money? You don't have to spend too much money just to get drunk. The Dancers seems to be an expensive country club according to an answer to this question( ell.stackexchange.com/questions/34427/…). – Makoto Kato Oct 5 '14 at 5:46
  • Yes. The Dancers bar evidently allows patrons to continue spending money on alcohol - even when those customers are obviously inebriated. – Seamus Nanatchk Oct 8 '14 at 2:48

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