"slough" (etc.)

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Sun May 27 20:51:59 UTC 2007

A student--apropos of a discussion about "self" and "personal identity" (especially as related to bodily integrity) in literature and folklore--recently required me to read _My Sister's Keeper_ (2004), by Jodi Picoult (who, I have learned, is a leading author of chick books). The novel is about a young girl who was conceived and borne specifically to serve as an organ donor to her ailing elder sister. This sentence appears on p. 38, in a reminiscence of the girls' father about their teenaged brother: "I take the carving utensils and slice into the roast beef just as Jesse sloughs into the kitchen."

Is anyone aware of a verb "slough" that can be used in that way? It might be a misprint for "slouch," except we would then expect an "-e-" to precede the final "-s." If there IS such a word "slough," how would it be pronounced? Would the verb suggest the way one might walk in a (noun) slough?  (Seems unlikely.) Or "slue" the way a car slues when one brakes on a wet pavement--twisting sideways? (Seems unlikely.)

On p. 191 of the novel, Jesse is asked how he gets along with his sisters. He replies, "They survive me." Clearly he means "endure"--with which "survive" can sometimes be synonymous. But it sounds wrong here.

Incidently, Piccout is, in general, a very competent stylist. And on p. 243 the term "Jersey barriers" appears; I wouldn't have understood the reference had not our list recently discussed the matter!


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