[English > Hebrew] Help understanding a paragraph

  1. As a native speaker, I'll tell you that an explanation of this passage is impossible, on the sole basis of this passage. The character's thought process has gaps. The terms "input" and "nothing we could do" cannot be given content from the rest of the passage, and therefore the passage is nonsense -- the term "input" is unjustifiable given the rest of the passage. Another aspect of why your inquiry is not well posed is that the "immediate theme" of the passage is complaint or regret or disappointment (expressed by the words "but", "nothing you could do", and "[something] you just have to [do]"), yet there is nothing in the passage that indicates what the speaker finds to complain about (the thrust of the first sentence contradicts the thrust of the other two sentences). The reasons why this passage is nonsense are almost entirely not grammatical, but conceptual. OK, there's one possible source of minor grammatical confusion in the second sentence. "them" refers to the fish, not to the "those numbers", which refers to the numbers of fish that died. If you want to find out what the hell the character is getting at, you're just gonna have to read the preceding page or so. Conceivably, this character created by Barthelme is somebody who talks nonsense.

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