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Q for you literature types...Of Mice And Men

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Fuzzy, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Would anyone have any idea what the term 'blue ball' means in the context of the following quote from 'Of Mice and Men'?

    'I gotta pair of punks on my team that don't know a barley bag from a blue ball'.

    It's for my daughter's Year 11 English homework. We canna find it anywhere :cry:

    Yes, I know we have our own meaning...I'm thinking they probably meant something else in this instance, being back in the '30s and all :) Besides my kids go to a christian school, I don't think they'd appreciate that definition :grin:
  2. I remember doing this at school.

    I think it is a testicle that it refers to. mind you i only watched the movie and was umm 'out of it' then

    EDIT - I have just found the page, I would take it as the literal term. Like saying you can't tell you asshole from your elbow
  3. Can it possibly mean the obvious. Like you can't tell the difference between a chair and an elephant. (2 opposites that you really need to be stupid not to get).

    But I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.
  4. bah link won't work.
  5. In snooker you have to call your shot, could it mean they can't tell the difference from a blue ball on the table or a barley bag, if not it's bruised testicles
  6. Been many a year since I read it, but it could just be a literal statement...
  7. if you read the context, the man is asking if they guys can 'buck' barley (whatever that is, reap? throw bags up onto a truck?) and when they say yes he disparages some of his workers with the phrase. I think he just means that they can't tell a bee from a bull's foot, sort of meaning, so they're useless at the job....
  8. The general meaning and use of that phrase is pretty well covered above, and pointing out that it's likely a local/industry expression has to show that one gets the meaning.

    But if the question is specifically what blue ball refers to, then...???

    The common expression for a thusly-afflicted nutsack is generally the plural - "Blue balls" - so this isn't necessarily the same thing.

    Stumped... :?
  9. 'blue' (dye) was sometimes used in laundry, for the same reason old ladies use it on their hair - it hides yellows and makes things look whiter. I can imagine a 'blue ball' being something like those 'tea balls' you can get to put tea leaves in, except it goes in the washing. Dunno whether this is the real explanation, but it's kinda plausible (and less rude).
  10. I think it's just a turn of phrase sort of utilising alliteration to form a tenuous link between two objects that are very, and obviously different.

    He wouldn't know a barley bag from a blue ball.

    He wouldn't know a dangerous dog from a dried daisy.

    He wouldn't know a rocky road from a raging river.

    Doesn't all have to be the same letter;

    He wouldn't know a cold beer from cooked beef.

    If I had to define it for an english essay using a bunch of bullshit words to describe textual tools so a teacher would award some marks, I would define it as "A turn of phrase using a form of alliteration to emphasise the juxtaposition of an example for the purpose of critical comparison."
  11. Thanks so much, everyone...you've all been a great help.

    The question relates specifically to the meaning of 'blue ball' itself in the context of the book however, if all else fails, we're just going to go with the literal phrase thingimy...with a few impressive words thrown in ala Bonk.

    I bet there's at least one in the class that goes with the testicle explanation, heehee.

    Bravus, your laundry explanation is interesting...I'm going to check that out, cos I'm curious like that.

    I knew you guys had smarts. You all get an A+.

  12. I think Bravus has it in one -- we here in Australia called it a "blue bag" (same thing). I remember Mum using them back in the 50s. They also used to wet them and put them on bee stings. (Your trivia for the day.)