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[...] After marrying so young she was overwhelmed by it all, having a child so quickly, and nursing, and warming up bottles of milk and testing their temperature against her wrist while Raj was at work, dressed in sweaters and corduroy pants, teaching his students about rocks and dinosaurs. Raj never looked cross or harried, or plump as she had become after the first baby.
Source: Interpreter of Maladies

A. as had she become

B. as she had become plump

First, would you please show me if my rephrased phrases, that is., A and B, are interchangeable with the original one?

Meanwhile, could you tell me what the word or conjunction as means here?

Thanks in advanced

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    You can read this as as like. FWIW, I don't think your alternatives really work. – Damkerng T. Feb 21 '15 at 15:23
  • Raj never looked as cross or harried, or plump as she had become after the first baby. We have to assume that it is a as ~as comparison structure with the fist as missing. – JayHook Feb 21 '15 at 16:07
  • It is meant as @Damkerng T states. It is sarcastic humor, pointing out that he did not become plump or overworked. – DrMoishe Pippik Feb 22 '15 at 3:29
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    @jayHook, that's incorrect; you've misunderstood that "as" as being the "as/as" construction, instead of the one I'm using in this sentence. – Codeswitcher Feb 22 '15 at 5:51
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    I recently read that story, and even discussed it with a reading group, but none of us caught how strange that sentence is. What is strange is that Lahiri would concatenate "cross", "harried" and "plump". I believe that the "as she had become" applies to all three. That is, after the baby, she had become cross, harried and plump, but her husband became none of these. Of course she might be surprised he did not become cross or harried, but it's not surprising that her husband did not become plump after she had the baby. An amusing juxtaposition! – Brian Hitchcock Feb 22 '15 at 9:40
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This sense of as means in the way that:

Raj never looked cross or harried, or plump in the way that she had become after the first baby.

You can also substitute like:

Raj never looked cross or harried, or plump like she had become after the first baby.

Your A. doesn't make grammatical sense, but your B. is close:

Raj never looked cross or harried, or plump as she had become plump after the first baby.

That is fine.

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  • Raj never looked cross or harried.  Also, Raj never looked plump.  In comparison, she had become plump after the first baby.

alternately

  • Raj never looked cross or harried.  Also, Raj never looked plump.  Meanwhile, she had become plump after the first baby.

There is nothing in this passage which suggests to me that one interpretation of the subordinating conjunction should be preferred over any other.  The meaning of "as" in this context seems practically irrelevant.  What is relevant is that it relates a subordinate fact (she had become that after the first baby) to a complement of the matrix clause (plump, which is something that Raj never looked).  

 
The problem with A) is that "had she become" uses a word order that we reserve for questions and subordinate subjunctive clauses -- neither of which is a fact.  An element that is already subordinate doesn't need a subordinating conjunction.  An element that isn't a fact doesn't make sense with the conjunction "as".  

 
The problem with B) is much smaller.  I wouldn't even call it an error.  It's merely redundant.

  • Raj never looked cross or harried, or plump as she had become [plump] after the first baby.

 
You can consider the repetition of the complement "plump" to be grammatically present, even though it is omitted as an unnecessary and confusing repetition.

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