a beaten and exhausted Don Quixote

nkaper

Senior Member
russian
From Don Quixote:

“And how many days does your grace think we’ll need before we can move our legs?” Sancho Panza replied.
“As for me,” said a beaten and exhausted Don Quixote, “I do not know how many days it will be. But I hold myself responsible for everything;

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Could somebody explain, why the determiner 'a' is used? Why not 'the'? I come across 'a' very rarely in such cases, almost always it's 'the'.
Thanks in advance.
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You could use "the," but "a" isn't unusual in literary texts. It's more a stylistic question, but because of the adjectives we do need some article.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I come across 'a' very rarely in such cases, almost always it's 'the'.
    The use of a beaten and exhausted Don Quijote suggests that there are other versions of Don Quijote -- Don Quijote in conditions different from this sorry state -- that also exist. The beaten and exhausted Don Quijote doesn't imply as strongly that other versions of the man are possible and even normal. I don't find a beaten and exhausted Don Quijote unusual in a literary description of an individual in a temporary state of being.
     

    nkaper

    Senior Member
    russian
    You could use "the," but "a" isn't unusual in literary texts. It's more a stylistic question, but because of the adjectives we do need some article.
    Thanks for the reply, although it perplexed me, as I often encounter incidents where there is no article at all before a name with an adjective. Could you explain why here, for instance, there is no article? "It was unhappy Sancho’s misfortune that among the people staying at the inn were four wool carders from Segovia,.... "
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Thanks for the reply, although it perplexed me, as I often encounter incidents where there is no article at all before a name with an adjective. Could you explain why here, for instance, there is no article? "It was unhappy Sancho’s misfortune that among the people staying at the inn were four wool carders from Segovia,.... "
    Good question. I think "unhappy Sancho's fortune" is a bit unusual but not incorrect. It may be the fact that "Sancho's" is possessive that makes the difference. The following would sound awkward without an article:

    “As for me,” said unhappy Don Quixote...
     
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