Tearful Smile YKTTW Discussion

Tearful Smile
(permanent link) added: 2009-11-21 14:58:41 sponsor: Goldfritha (last reply: 2009-11-21 14:58:41)

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Someone smiles while crying -- usually after the tears start.

May be an attempt to paper over the grief, especially to fool a child, but often indicates a -- complicated emotional state. As when No One Could Survive That is succeeded by Not Quite Dead so quickly that the characters suffer emotional whiplash.

Compare Go Out with a Smile.


  • At the end of Star Trek: Generations, Data and Dr. Crusher are searching the wrecked Enterprise for survivors, and discover Data's pet cat, Spot alive under some rubble. Data begins to cry and wonders if his emotion chip is malfunctioning, but Crusher assures him it's working fine.
  • Charlie Chaplin cries tears of joy at the very end of City Lights.

Comic Books
  • Then there's this ElfQuest cover. Cutter was grievously wounded in the previous issue, and Leetah's expression here is deliberately ambiguous.

  • In Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, when Nutt says they can leave to go back to the city, cutting off her chance to speak, Glenda bursts into tears. Then, minutes later, she manages to smile on top of it.
  • In Carole Nelson Douglas's Six of Swords when Irissa has lost her powers and gone blind, she starts to cry. Kendric is cruel to her and leaves, taking the horses, causing her to sob. Then Kendric returns and Irissa finds her vision returning, and she sees that the tears were solid and colored; she regains both her sight and her powers, and smiles even as she weeps the last of the problem away.
  • In TH White's The Once and Future King, after Lancelot and Guinevere quarrel and make up
    The Queen dried her tears and then looked at him, smiling like a spring shower.
  • In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, when Elinor learns that Edward is free:
    She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease.

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