A quote from a book

Phillips awoke from anesthesia the next morning in a hospital. He recalls, “I did the proverbial ‘I don’t want to look, but let’s see’ ” and checked under his blanket to find “an empty place where my left foot should have been.” The limb had been severed, just below the knee, by the other boat’s propeller.

Please tell me, what "I don’t want to look, but let’s see" means? I didn't find any proverb describe it in English and Vietnamese.

  • 1
    The sentence in quotes has its usual literal meaning. Proverbial means "commonly spoken of".
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 11 at 9:20
  • Thanks for your answer
    – leminh81
    Commented May 11 at 9:32
  • Unquestionably, the verb look here is being used 100% in its literal sense. But "Let's see" is somewhat more metaphorical - it means let us / me find out [the truth of the matter]. In principle even a blind person could say "Let's see" in this context, as he uses his hands to feel whether the foot is there or not. Commented May 11 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


The speaker is using the word proverbial loosely there to mean something like "typical" or "usual" or "common". He is referring to the combination of dread —the fearing to look— but also the curiosity —the wanting to know— that is common in such situations.

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