ya no notaríamos, y era entonces cuando nos quitaban el nombre

ilias05

Senior Member
Dutch-Netherlands
Hi guys

I wanted to ask you how I should interpret the sentence in bold. Was it at the moment they didn´t perceive the smell that their names were taken or was it just after they had to form a queue?


Habíamos viajado durante una noche entera y un día sin fin en trenes aquejados por una sórdida lentitud de posguerra, y el sentimiento de deportación ya se hizo ineludible cuando en el mismo andén nos ordenaron a gritos que nos pusiéramos en fila y nos recordaron un hábito disciplinario de la infancia: extender el brazo derecho hasta tocar el hombro del que había delante para mantener la distancia. Luego, en una explanada entre los barracones, había que formar de nuevo, percibiendo siempre ese olor extraño e infame que muy pronto ya no notaríamos, y era entonces cuando nos quitaban el nombre, sustituido por una especie de matrícula que en ciertos casos podía parecerse al nombre en clave de un espía de tebeo. Como era de Jaén, yo pasé a llamarme J-54.
 
  • Artifacs

    Senior Member
    Spanish - España
    It's weird that the writer uses "pretérito imperfecto" after they arrive to the barracks. I mean, that way it seems he/she is talking about a rutine that hapens everyday:

    - They form in queue between the barracks.
    - They smell that stench (which won't be smelled soon).
    - They are taken away their names.

    Which is weird because of the second and third items. Did the guards take away their names everyday? Did they give them different names each or the same ones?

    Let's see what other native members think about it.
     

    ilias05

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Netherlands
    I think it´s not happening everyday. The writer is just narrating about a day in the army I guess.

    Nota de moderadora
    Exceso de texto editado (regla 4).
    Gracias - Bevj
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Artifacs

    Senior Member
    Spanish - España
    Other option could be that, every now and then, some new men arrive at that camp and the whole three-step rutine applies again to those new men. Anyway, solving this isn't necessary to solve the original question.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Yo creo que sí está resuelta, la duda.
    El autor está constantemente cambiando la perspectiva de la narración, de lo que pasa "seguida, repetida, continuamente, a varios grupos" (imperfecto), a lo que pasa "desde la perspectiva de los eventos de un grupo en particular" (indefinido).
    Y me parece que lo logra bastante bien.
     

    ilias05

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Netherlands
    But when is the 'entonces' in 'era entonces cuando nos quitaban el nombre'? When they stopped smelling the scent or when they were forming?
     

    jmx

    Senior Member
    Spain / Spanish
    Luego, en una explanada entre los barracones, había que formar de nuevo, percibiendo siempre ese olor extraño e infame que muy pronto ya no notaríamos, y era entonces cuando nos quitaban el nombre, sustituido por una especie de matrícula que en ciertos casos podía parecerse al nombre en clave de un espía de tebeo.
    My translation:

    Later, in ..., we had to queue again, always perceiving that strange ... smell that we would soon no longer notice, and it was then when our names were taken from us, and replaced by ...
     

    Elcanario

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    But when is the 'entonces' in 'era entonces cuando nos quitaban el nombre'? When they stopped smelling the scent or when they were forming?
    That "..., percibiendo siempre ese olor extraño e infame que muy pronto ya no notaríamos, ..." is a digression, an interpolated clause. That and the main clause action "Luego, ..., había que formar de nuevo, ..." happen simultaneously and then the "branding" comes and instead of names as humans they get letters and numbers as they were cattle.
    Un saludo
     
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